The posthumous induction of Wayne Hartford into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame is a well- deserved recognition of his baseball talents and achievements. Mr. Hartford, who passed away on May 8th in Houlton, was thrilled and honored to hear of his inclusion into the Hall and was certainly looking forward to his induction ceremony. Wayne is truly missed by his family and friends who will honor him and celebrate his legacy in the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
Wayne was born in Miami, Florida and moved to Northern Maine as a youngster. Residing in Presque Isle, Wayne began his pitching career in the service club league and showed real promise of being an outstanding left-handed pitcher in his early years. At the young age of fourteen, Hartford was selected to play for the Presque Isle Junior Legion team and won his first start against Fort Fairfield striking out fifteen batters. His pitching would lead the team to three straight Northern Maine championships from 1958-60. Wayne was blessed with a good fastball, a natural screwball and a curve ball that would freeze many a hitter.
As a 1961 graduate of Presque Isle High School, Wayne could legitimately lay claim to being one of the best Wildcat pitchers of all time. As a freshman, Wayne had a record of 4-1 and pitched a no-hitter against a strong Houlton team at Mackin Field. Wayne would go on to lead Presque Isle to the County Championship as a Junior and Senior with a record of eleven wins while never experiencing a defeat. During his high school career he averaged thirteen strikeouts per game, recorded a 2.2 lifetime ERA and a won/loss record of 19-2.
During the summers of 1960-61, Mr. Hartford pitched semi-pro baseball for the Houlton Collegians in the Maine-New Brunswick League. Again, Wayne was very successful in pitching his team to numerous victories. The highlight of the season that year was picking up the win in the annual Maine-New Brunswick all-star game held at Grand Falls.
After attending MCI for a year, Wayne enrolled at Husson University where he was offered a full scholarship to play sports for the Braves. A brilliant four year career led to numerous records at Husson: Most career wins by a pitcher at 22 including eight shutouts, most wins in a season at 8 and most strikeouts by a pitcher in a game at 21. During his four years at Husson, Hartford helped lead the school to Northeast College Conference Championships in both 1964 and 1965. Other highlights included throwing a no-hitter against Thomas College and pitching both ends of a double header against UMPI while only allowing a total of five hits in both games. Mr. Hartford was inducted into the Husson Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.
Mr. Hartford was later offered a Class D contract to sign with the Boston Red Sox team. However, he decided not to pursue a professional baseball career and lived out his life in the State of Maine. From 1970 to 1980 he worked as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Houlton and was instrumental in developing youth programs, baseball leagues and others opportunities for community involvement. He became acquainted with Southern Aroostook head baseball coach Murray Putnam and the two remained close right up until Wayne’s passing. “He ranks as the most determined and principled man I’ve ever met,” said Putnam. “He was dedicated to his job and a real hands-on manager, and he was extremely conscientious in his approach.” In 2002, Wayne and his wife Sandra built and operated Seasonal Camp Rentals, a sporting camp business in Northern Maine.
Baseball was a passion for Wayne Hartford. What separated Wayne from many other players was his instinct for the game and his good sportsmanship. Wayne Hartford exemplified the best of what Maine baseball is all about. He played baseball at its purest level, for the love of the game.
Emblematic of his Aroostook County class is the letter Wayne wrote to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame Selection Committee upon learning of his induction this past April:
“Dear Members of the Selection Committee:
I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for my selection to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2012. I am very honored, grateful and humbled by my selection. I consider it to be the highest baseball honor that there is in the State of Maine.
Sincerely, Wayne Hartford”