Kierstead, Art (1998)
World War II truncated a stellar, historic sports career at South Portland High School for Art Kierstead.
But the last four-letterman in SP annals came back from multi-decorated service in the hottest of action in the European Theater to earn further distinction along the Southwestern Maine baseball front.
The National Pastime was Art’s signature sport, though this veritable “Man for All Seasons” repeatedly reflected on the diamond and outfield, the qualities that served him and his teams well on the football gridiron, basketball court and track and field.
An ideal centerfielder, Kierstead played errorless ball throughout his schoolboy baseball career and perfection afield was likewise the norm in postgraduate play.
Art was an All-Telegram League selection as the charges of legendary athlete-coach Bill Curran won the 1943 Telly championship.
The Press account of SP’'s title-clinching 11-10 victory over Westbrook noted the “Artful Artie Kierstead, the Capers’ speed demon outfielder, supplied the winning wallop in the ninth with a sharp single over shortstop to score Captain Johnny Gleason with the tie-breaking tally. [the hit was Kierstead's third of the day, since he'd previously singled and tripled.”
Coincidentally, it was Coach Curran who was SP’s last four-sport letterman prior to Kierstead.
Bill was later to state that Kierstead was one of the finest diamondeers he’d ever coached.
Kierstead completed his SP letter quadruple by mixing in his track career with his baseball service. In one meet, simultaneous with a ball game, between innings and in his baseball uniform, he won the pole vault and high jump in an adjacent meet.
Drafted into the Army after his junior year, Kierstead the prime athlete was the correspondingly solid soldier with the 2nd infantry Division.
Normandy Invasion, Omaha Beach on D-Day-plus-One, five battle stars including the Battle of the Bulge, says It all.
Back home, this older member of one of South Portland’s finest sports families -- whose presence is still deeply there today -- added eight seasons and more baseball honors In the venerable Portland Twilight League, playing with Century Tire, Yudy’s Tires and South Portland Merchants.
Art was twice an All- Twi choice, once with the Merchants and once with Century.
With his playing days over, Art umpired in the SP National Little league for two seasons and later was assistant coach under old sidekick Johnny Gleason in the Central Little League.