L’Heureux, Walter J. (1982)
He grew up in the Great Depression, where Baseball fields were enjoyable escapes for youngsters.
In Walter L’Heureux’s family baseball was a way of life.
His two brothers — Henry and Art — also starred in baseball in their hometown Sanford area. Walt started Out as a catcher but after getting hit in the eye by one of Henry's pitches he switched to pitcher with Henry going behind the plate. Walt turned into a super pitcher, Henry became a feared catcher.
Much of the family’s baseball was against a barn, used as a backstop, where the three brothers would take turns trying to strike out each other with a hard rubber ball and bat carved by an axe. They collectively ate, slept and talked baseball.
Walter, nicknamed “Lefty,” was one of the state’s pest pitchers for three decades (1930-50). He hurled Cole Post into the state American Legion championship game in 1939, losing the game 2-1 to Waterville in 11 innings despite throwing no-hit ball for 10 innings.
A year later, Walter was again dealt a bitter hand when he no-hit Lynn, Mass., in Legion play only to lose 1-0. He was a fine Twilight League pitcher also.
And in 1943, when he went into the service for World War Il, he pitched for a legendary service team.
Honored as the Army’s starting pitcher, the game in Brisbane, Australia, also included the likes of Phil Rizzuto, Dom DiMaggio and Charlie Wagner.
DiMaggio said L’Heureux’s curve ball was one of the best he ever batted against, which helped account for his stellar strikeout record throughout his star studded career.
After the war, he pitched in a Canadian professional league, where, naturally, he was a standout. He was just as successful playing semi-pro ball for Goodall Sanford and Allain’s of Rochester, N.H.
He once turned down a contract from the New York Yankees because of family obligations.
L’Heureux, Walter J. (82)
Walter L'Heureux, 85
The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram
SANFORD -- Walter L'Heureux, 85, of Sanford, died unexpectedly Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007.
He was born in Sanford on Nov. 19, 1922, their son of Albert and Blanche (Fontaine) L'Heureux. He attended local schools and served in the U.S. Army in World War II.
While serving time in the military he played baseball against many well known stars including Dom Dimaggio, Johnnie Pesky, Joe Cronin, Ted Williams and Vic Wertz.
Throughout the next several years Walter played professional baseball in Canada for the Granby Red Sox and later declined a contract to play for a New York Yankee affiliate in Geneva, N.Y. and returned to Sanford to raise a family.
In 1982 Mr. L'Heureux was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.