Laverdiere, Wilfred (2012)
The course of Wilfred "Fo Fo" Laverdiere’s career in baseball weaves together several significant threads in the rich fabric of Maine baseball history: A promising high school career at John Bapst in Bangor and Livermore Falls, a sparkling All-State collegiate tenure for John Winkin at Colby when the State Series meant statewide bragging rights, town team stints with several of the best nines of that golden era, and an influential coaching career at four different Maine high schools.
Wil parlayed a sparkling senior year in 1953 at Livermore Falls High School, where he developed a reputation as a consistent line drive hitter and fleet-footed outfielder, into a starring role for the Colby Mules. Coach Winkin has been quoted that “Wilfred was at the top of his list as one of the best he had ever coached.”
Teammate and fellow Maine Baseball Hall of Famer Neil Stinneford described the Laverdiere skill set: “He was an excellent ballplayer. He covered left field as well as anybody I ever saw. As a batter, he was a dead pull hitter and I never saw anyone who could throw a fastball by him. And, he was exceptionally fast!”
Colby won the State Series twice during Laverdiere’s four-year career and Wil earned All-Maine honors his sophomore year with an eye-popping .471 average.
Wil honed his baseball skills in the summer during his career at Colby, and for several years beyond, playing for a variety of town team and semi-pro teams throughout Western Maine. He played for Dixfield and Farmington in the heyday of the fabled Down East League, a fast semi-pro circuit that attracted top-flight collegiate talent. Additional campaigns were added for town ball stalwarts Wilton Loggers in the Western Maine League, Livermore Falls – Chisholm Merchants in the Andy County League, and the Madison Merchants. A check of the newspaper clippings that chronicled the high water mark of the town team baseball in the decade from the mid 1950’s to the mid 1960’s show Laverdiere to be consistently among the top five hitters in the league, year in and year out.
Laverdiere became a high school teacher and baseball coach shortly after his graduation from Colby. His coaching career included stops at Winterport, Anson Academy, Skowhegan and Livermore Falls. Drawing on his unmatched baseball experience, Wil was a natural mentor and inspirational role model for scores of youth. Typical of his influence on his players is this comment from John Bubar, Brigadier General, USAF (retired) who played for Laverdiere at Anson Academy: “I don’t remember specifically what he said to me. What I do remember though, fifty years later, is how his professionalism set an expectation for me that demanded I keep my head in the game, no matter my raging teenage angst. It was leadership by example. And what I do recall with great clarity is my coach: calm, composed and always in control. Coach Wil Laverdiere provided me with one of my first models of command presence; a model that has helped to shape my path these past five decades.”
Baseball will always be with him as he recalls his performing in the game, developing youth to succeed, and cherishing all those memories of hundreds of hits in dozens of ball fields across Central and Western Maine, and fly balls chased down and bases swiped; the camaraderie of teammates from high school and college; and all the students he coached, developing their ability to succeed both in baseball and in life.
It is fitting and deserving that Wilfred “Fo-Fo” Laverdiere take his place with the greats of the game – a Maine Baseball Hall of Famer!