Kiszonak, Amel (2016)
“Amel was more than a baseball figure. He was an enthusiastic citizen of Lisbon including selectman, town manager and active member of economic committees for the town. Roberts 88ers is still a known name in Lisbon being used by Little League and other teams. Many thanks to Amel Kiszonak for his contribution to Lisbon and Lisbon baseball tradition.”
The posthumous induction of Amel Kiszonak into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame is an altogether fitting tribute to a decorated World War II veteran, a dedicated public servant and a premier figure in Maine town team baseball.
Born November 16, 1910 in Lisbon Falls, Amel Kiszonak was one of seven children of Louis and Julianna Kiszonak. His athletic prowess was evident early on and he graduated with multi-sport letters from Lisbon Falls High School in 1927.
On to the University of Maine, Amel won letters in baseball for three years and set a single-season record for triples (10) in 1932, a mark that would stand for 50 years.
Following his graduation from UMO in 1932, Amel returned to his home town and from 1935-1941 he taught biology, history, business administration and civics at Lisbon Falls High School and coached football, baseball, basketball and track. Not content to fuel his passion for baseball solely from the coach’s box, Amel played and coached semi-pro baseball for the Lisbon Falls Lemons, later known as The Green Sox and the Braves, in the venerable Pine Tree League. He also suited up for the Worumbo Indians, another fast semi-pro team sponsored by the Worumbo Mill in Lisbon Falls.
Amel departed for active military duty on February 10, 1941 and served in the U.S. Army until his discharge in 1945. He was a veteran of the European Campaign and was awarded five Bronze Stars. Amel continued to serve in the Army Officer Reserve Corps until his retirement in 1970.
Following the conclusion of World War II, Amel returned to Lisbon Falls and resumed his coaching career as well as taking on the position of principal.
In 1950 Amel moved into the private sector, first at the Worumbo Mill Manufacturing Company and later as Assistant Superintendent at the Farnsworth Mill, both important textile manufacturers in Lisbon.
Amel would work for 16 years in the textile industry before becoming Public Works Director for Lisbon in 1965, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1970.
The baseball flame continued to burn brightly for Amel even with his playing days behind him. In 1963 Amel, by now his civic stature increasing as Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, took the lead in promoting and organizing a revival of town team baseball in Lisbon Falls. The Lisbon Falls Merchants competed respectably in the fast-paced Andy County League that summer spearheaded by a sparkling contingent of ballplayers (Bob Baumer, Marty Roop, Dave Begos, Stan Doughty, et al.) recruited by Amel.
A devastating fire in the Kiszonak home on Thanksgiving morning in 1963 destroyed the team’s uniforms and equipment. Amel and his players were undaunted however and the team began the 1964 season under the sponsorship of Noyes and Rae Lawrence, co-owners of Roberts Pharmacy on Main Street. The pharmacy had been founded by Lawrence’s grandfather, George Roberts in 1988, and the Lisbon Falls entrant in the 1964 Andy County League would be known as the Roberts 88’ers.
With Amel Kiszonak at the helm, the Roberts 88’ers won the Andy County League championship in 1964 and 1965, with identical 21-3 records in both seasons. The 88’ers went on to capture the YABC (Yankee Amateur Baseball Conference), Maine’s version of a state-wide, town team World Series, in 1964 and 1965 as well. Amel’s three-year record managing the 88’ers was 59-13, a crowning achievement during the golden era of Maine town team baseball.
Amel Kiszonak passed away December 24, 1975. He was laid to rest with full military honors. Governor James B. Longley attended his funeral and, along with hundreds of others in attendance, he paid his respects to a man who served his town and his country nobly. The Maine Baseball Hall of Fame is proud to add yet another honor to the enduring legacy of Amel Kiszonak.
The Best Featuring Amel Kiszonak and Maine Born Professional Baseball Players and Their Families . Click link to watch .