Flagg, Dick (2007)
Dick Flagg is representative of a close-knit fraternity of umpires who came of age professionally in the 1960’s and 70’s and provided the authority and integrity essential to the thriving high school, legion and college baseball scene of that era.
Carroll Rines, Sonny Noel, Jack Redmond, Eddie Ainsworth, Hal Loubier and Leroy Rand – all “Men in Blue” who worked with Dick Flagg during his 48 years (and counting) of umpiring. An impressive list of veteran arbiters who took their job seriously and, although missing occasionally on a call, never failed to let you know where they, and you, stood.
Dick interest in baseball was life-long, although his actual playing days were limited to the 1946 Saco Valley League season. Dick graduated from Deering in 1947, served in the Army from 1947-48, came home and was recalled and served again from 1950-52 during the Korean conflict. He developed an interest in umpiring while in the Army. In 1960, at Jack Redmond’s urging, Dick took and passed the umpiring test and a career was launched which shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
Dick started out with JV and frosh games, gradually working up to high school varsity contests in the Triple C and Telegram Leagues and the Twilight League in the summer.
One of the more memorable games that found Dick behind the plate was the 1963 Twilight League Championship. Holy Cross (by way of Cheverus) phenom Dick Joyce took the mound for Peaks Island, opposed by Deering’s Dick Densmore, then attending Duke, who toed the slab for Harris Oil. Joyce bested Densmore 1-0 in a game that did nothing to tarnish the sterling reputation of both pitchers.
Dick’s rapid development into a top-knotch umpire caught the eye of Sonny Noel who recommended Dick to the college teams. Dick started working the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin series in 1968 and added several other Maine colleges to his resume in the 1970’s.
At the height of his productive career, Dick would often work 5 games a week and doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. In those days, umpires were more collegial and would often drive to the games together. (“Whoever had the plate would drive”). A close camaraderie developed among this band of brothers who would dissect that day’s game on the drive home and sharpen their game calling skills.
Dick began to pare back his arduous schedule in the late 1970’s but still, at the age of 78, manages to do 25-30 games a year. He jokingly vows to catch long-time friend and mentor Jack Redmond’s record of 50 years of umpiring and, now in his 48th year, is poised to accomplish that soon. By his own conservative count, Dick figures he has umpired over 2,000 games.
Dick went to work for Northeast Airlines (which later became Delta) in 1956 and retired in 1991. Dick and his wife, Patricia live in Portland as do Dick’s three children.
Dick regrets only that the commitment to umpiring did involve a lot of time away from his family. The life-long friendships and the quiet pride that comes from serving as a true steward of the game’s rules and traditions provide priceless consolation as does the recognition of his contributions today by the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.