Jabar, Joseph M. (1996)
Throughout the 1960’s the name of Joe Jabar of Waterville was familiar to all students of Maine baseball - as well as basketball. Today the Hall of Fame welcomes one of the finest athletes to grace the fields and courts of Waterville High School and Colby College.
At Waterville High, Panther fans marveled at his many outstanding feats and debated the question “Which is Joe’s best sport?”.
He was a varsity performer in baseball from 1961 to 1964.
in American Legion baseball, Joe Jabar came under the tutelage of John Winkin, then Colby’s baseball coach.
in 1964, Winkin’s Bourque Lanigan Post of Waterville won its first state Legion baseball championship and Jabar was the Legion Player of the Year.
in the tournament at he was 2-0 on the mound, .412 at the plate and contributed some Spectacular catches in the outfield.
At Colby Joe enjoyed three excellent seasons.
in 1966, he went 41 on a Staff with Eddie Phillips (HoF ’79) and Roger Valliere that steered the Mules into the NCAA regional playoffs - a season in which the steady sophomore was fourth in the nation in strikeouts.
in 1967, Jabar recorded an 0.99 ERA in the state series and joined Terry Ordway of Maine as All-Maine pitchers.
in 1968, he was a repeat All-Maine pitcher, this time sharing the honors with Bob Curry and Gordy Engstrom, both of the Maine Black Bears. Joe captained the 1968 team and also was co-captain of the ‘68 basketball team.
The Massachusetts Cape Cod League has for a long time been recognized as one of the fastest summer ball circuits and Joe Jabar enjoyed eminent success playing for Chatham in 1966 and ‘67 - he was 7- 0 twice, and in both seasons he was selected the Most Valuable Pitcher for the league.
in 1967, his battery mate Thurman Munson, a .450 hitter, was the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Following his graduation from Colby in 1968, Joe hurled for the Falmouth entry in the Portland Twilight League. He turned in a log of 7 and 4 with 94 strikeouts in 7/7 innings - good enough to gain a contract with the Seattle Pilots organization.
As a Seattle farmhand, Jabar pitched for the 1969 Newark CoPilots in the New York-Penn League (A).
He garnered 10 wins to lead the Seattle minor league organization in the category.
The following spring, he attended spring training but, when he was not tendered a spot on a high Classification roster, he elected to attend the University of Maine in Portland’s law school. He graduated in 1971 and has been a practicing attorney ever since.
in the 70s and 80s, Joe coached in youth programs - Little League, Babe Ruth league and Waterville Junior High.
“Those were some of the best years of my life,” Jabar, who was inducted in the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame in 2003, said. “I made a lot of friends.”
Jabar, now a Justice on the Maine Supreme Court, will be an honorary captain during the Cape Cod League All-Star Game, Friday night at Fenway Park.
Jabar will be the honorary captain for the East squad. Paul Mitchell, who won 25 games in the Cape League and appeared in 162 major league games with Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A’s, Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers, is the honorary captain for the West.
A Waterville native and Colby College and Maine School of Law graduate, Jabar played three seasons in the Cape Cod League. In 1965, he pitched for Yarmouth, before joining Chatham for 1966 and ’67. Jabar posted a record of 21-4 in his three years, including back-to-back 7-0 seasons with Chatham. Jabar was named the league’s most outstanding pitcher in both his seasons with Chatham, the first two-time winner of the award. His 15 consecutive regular season wins are a Cape Cod League record.
In 1967, Jabar posted an earned run average of 1.23, and helped lead Chatham to the league title. His catcher that season was future New York Yankees star Thurman Munson.
“I remember telling people (Munson) was the best player I’d seen outside of the Majors,” Jabar said. “He was aggressive. He’d want you to throw inside at a guy, and if you didn’t, he’d get mad.”
Jabar also remembers playing against a young Bobby Valentine.
“He was just a young kid out of high school,” Jabar said. “I don’t recall if he got a hit off me.”
The winning pitcher in the 1966 Cape Cod League all-star game, Jabar has followed the league over the years, and thinks the play on the Cape is better than ever.
“I think the level of play has picked up,” Jabar said. “They’re getting players from all over the country… There’s more specialization. Now, they have pitchers who do nothing but close. We were expected to go the whole game.”
After signing as a free agent with the Seattle Pilots (the Pilots played one season in Seattle before moving to Milwaukee in 1970 as the Brewers), Jabar was 11-4 with a 3.99 ERA for the Newark (N.Y.) Co-Pilots of the Single A New York-Penn League.
During spring training in 1969, Jabar learned he would be sent back to A ball, and decided instead to go to law school.
“I had a family to think of. At that point, I made a grown-up decision,” Jabar said. “It worked out pretty well.”
Jabar said he attends the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame induction ceremony each year. He’s looking forward to seeing this year’s class, which includes former Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, enter the Hall in November. A few years ago, Jabar attended a reunion of the 1966 Chatham championship team.
“They gave us rings because they didn’t give us them when we won,” Jabar said.
From Cape Cod Baseball League News
Munson, who had hit .420 to win the Cape League batting title in ’67, was the Yankees’ first-round draft choice the following June and received a signing bonus of $100,000, a small fortune in those days. Jabar, who had just received his degree in economics from Colby and was pitching in a summer league in Portland, jumped at an offer of $1,000 from the Seattle Pilots. The 22-year-old rookie was assigned to the Newark Co-Pilots of the Class-A New York-Penn League, where he posted an impressive 10-4 record and a 3.99 ERA. He also held his own at the plate, batting .235 well before the designated hitter was introduced.
When he learned that he would not be promoted to a higher level in ’69, Jabar decided that his baseball career was over. He returned to Portland and the University of Maine Law School, where he received his JD in 1971. Since then, his distinguished career has taken him to Washington, D.C., where he served as a federal prosecutor for the Justice Department, and back to Maine, where he has been an imposing figure in the state’s political, civic and judicial circles.
He was elected to two terms in the Maine State House of Representatives, serving from 1996 to 2001, and has been a state Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, a member of the Waterville Board of Education and a district attorney for Kennebec-Somerset Counties. For 25 years he was a partner with the Waterville law firm of Jabar, Batten Ringer and Murphy.
His first judicial appointment was to the Maine Superior Court by Gov. Angus King in 2001. He was re-appointed in 2008 by Gov. John Baldacci and while sitting on the Superior Court he served on the Family Law Advisory Commission, Criminal Law Advisory Commission, Media and the Courts Committee and State Sentencing and Corrections Council. Gov. Baldacci appointed him to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Sept. 1, 2009. His term ends in 2016.
Judge Jabar was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996, and into the Cape League Hall of Fame in 2003.