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  • Writer's pictureMaine Baseball HOF

Gagne, Lionel (Nel) (1981)

LIONEL GAGNE A combination of disheartening and untimely injuries kept Winslow’s Lionel (Nell) Gagne from ever playing major league baseball despite his slugging exploits in the minors.

His first two times up for the Boston Bee's farm team in Evansville, Ind., lefty Gagne, a three-sport standout at Winslow High, rocketed two doubles off the wall, despite his 5-9, 170 size. He was leading the Nebraska League in hitting (.372) at Beatrice, a Brooklyn Dodger affiliate, until pulled ligaments in his legs put him on the shelf.

Later signed by the Boston Braves, Gagne was again drawing the attention of scouts in Hartford, Conn., when a form of acne broke out on his arms and shoulders curtailing another fine season.

Once that cleared up, and he was Starring again, this time for Drummondville in the Provincial League, a trick knee, the result of a torn ligament, proved his undoing. Told by doctors that the ailment could only be remedied by an expensive operation, Gagne abandoned his pursuit of a major league career.

Nonetheless, he gutted it out for years On various semi-pro teams, earning his entrance into this year’s Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Among them was Maine’s Worumbo Indians, where his big bat helped them to a state championship. He also played for the Winslow Tacconnets, leading the league in hitting before joining the service for three-and-a-half years, being stationed in Europe and playing on service teams.

Not quick, this outfielder, mostly center, would be off with the crack of the bat saving countless games with spectacular catches. Owning a good batting eye it was only natural that Gagne batted lead-off most of the time.

He worked for the Waterville Sentinel for 17 years before joining the Waterville Window Co. Today he is president of Care Free Homes.

Gagne enjoys a care-free life himself now, spending the winters in Florida, mostly on the golf course.

From Lewiston Sentinal

WINSLOW -- Lionel "Nel" J. Gagne passed away with his family by his side on Jan. 24, 2006.

Nel was born on Sept. 7, 1915, in Winslow, son of the late Ernest and Annie Gagne.

He graduated from Winslow High School where he was a three-letter sports standout and was one of the players of Winslow's 1939 championship basketball team. He attended Coburn Classical Institute in Waterville.

Nel was drafted by major baseball farm leagues, the Brooklyn Dodgers and later by the Boston Braves. He also played for various semi-pro leagues in Maine. In 1981 he was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. He was an avid golfer and bowled on many leagues.

He served his country in the Army during World War II in North Africa and Italy and was deployed to the Pacific campaign when the war ended. He was a member of the Winslow VFW and the Waterville American Legion.

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