Gleason, Sr, John F. (Johnny) (1997)
JOHN F. (JOHNNY) GLEASON, SR.
This year in a unique transposition, John F. (Johnny) Gleason, or., follows son John Jr., 1993 inductee, into Maine’s baseball shrine as a stellar lefthand pitcher and all-round operative at the school-college semipro levels as well as longtime contributor to youth leagues as coach and official.
Gleason crowned a stellar three-sport career at South Portland High School by leading Coach Bill Curran’s “Capers” (long before “Red Riots” became SP’s nomme de guerre) to an undefeated season and the 1943 Telegram League Championship.
Needless to say, southpaw Johnny was an easy selection by the sports-scribe pickers of the All- Telegram team.
A timely hitter, the Caper captain was equally at home around first base or in centerfield, patrolling the latter post with the range and quickness that also made him an asset on the SP football and track teams.
Endurance was another Gleason trademark, one that came to implement his passion for going the distance, as recalled by a close chronicler of Johnny’s career that led to the University of Maine during the WW II years and 15 summers of semipro action, mostly in the Portland Twilight League.
it seems that Johnny and the Maine Black Bears were leading by one run in a later inning but the port sider was tiring fast.
Yet, when he saw legendary Maine coach Bill Kenyon send a reliever to the bullpen, Johnny “got upset,” fired up, bore down and got the side out on nine straight pitches.
A typical Gleason stint off the mound: Johnny helped the Twilight League All-Stars defeat the Portland Hoboes (actually the professional Portland Pilots), 6-3, as centerfielder fashioning two hits and as many runs, his speed stretching one safety into a double.
Johnny eventually tacked on 20 seasons of softball play, in raising a family of five with good wife Doris. In view of his lifelong love affair with the National Pastime dating from age 5 when he “carried a ball and bat everywhere,” it was only natural that he got deeply into Little League wherever he landed.
Dad got John Jr. started on the right track toward stardom as a catcher for Cape Elizabeth High, the University Of New Hampshire and more than 20 seasons of Twilight League play. And Gleason the elder had winning seasons all ten years with the South Portland National LL.
He was twice nominated the Kenneth C.M. Sills Award as state LL coach of-the-year and co-coached several all-star teams.
An employment shift as an accountant sent him to Augusta where he was District 5 Little League representative for five years. During that term, an Augusta team went all the way to the LL World Series in Williamsport. Gleason service and leadership has been equally outstanding beyond the playing field: Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader; 20-year Sunday School teacher; 10-year United Methodist Conference district treasurer; Portland district lay reader.
Johnny’s overall community service earned him the Eastern United States 1958 Good Citizenship Award (among four recipients nationwide) by the Mutual Trust Life Insurance Co. to its policy holders.
From Portland Press Herald
"An outstanding athlete, he was thrilled to be recognized in 1997 by his induction to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame."