Kinney, Joe (1981)
JOE KINNEY Joe Kinney played baseball during a period when long and tiring train and bus rides from whistlestop to whistlestop were the order of the day.
However, Kinney—a stalwart righthand pitcher in the ’30’s and ’40’s for countless professional leagues, though none the majors—never complained.
“All us kids were crazy about baseball, © the 72-year-old Kinney, who attended Belgrade High said from his Lisbon Falls home, his wife Mary by his side. “If a guy would walk a mile for a camel, he would have walked 10 miles for a ballgame.” Possessing an acute sense of adventure, Kinney wandered America like a gypsy, following that alluring baseball. “I loved all the travel,” he said. Four years of high school baseball at Belgrade, followed by a year at Hebron Academy began his career and traveling.
After a few seasons in Chicago, he hung his bat in Cedar Rapids for a team named the Bunnies. He threw a one-hitter—a ball he couldn’t handle—there in 1932.
He only faced 28 batters that night; his control was excellent.
Nonetheless, outbursts of wildness were an albatross for Kinney in his formative pitching years.
‘When I first came to the pros I tried to do too much,” the longtime office worker at Bath Iron Works said. “I tried to throw harder than | was capable of and that hurt.
He had a major league tryout in 1933 with the Detroit Tigers, but refused to be sent to the minors. His only other major league opportunity was with the Boston Braves, who were willing to take him down south with the team if he would wait two weeks in Beantown. He didn't.
He burned up most of the New England and Maine Leagues and was renowned as a strikeout pitcher. He once fanned 22 and 23 batters within a week at Belgrade High.
And won 18 straight in 1939 for Lisbon Falls’ Worumbo Indians.
He quit pitching in 1942, but not before carving a niche deserved of entering the gates of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame this year.
Lewiston Sun Journal
"And they relive the stories of the acclaimed Worumbo Indians, a semi-pro baseball team that gained national stature. Worumbo’s owners recruited top players to come to work at the mill and play on the team. They included Joe Kinney and Tony Begos, a talented shortstop, who had played on an all-star team with Babe Ruth against Lou Gehrig. Begos also played in games against Jim Thorpe and Babe Didrickson."