“One of the finest athletes if not the finest athlete that ever came out of Gardiner High School.” This was the assessment given by Normie Merrill (HoF ’77) to support the selection of Jack MacDonald for the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Ted Shiro (HoF 94) and Bob Whytock were equally impressed, labeling Jack “one of Maine’s greatest athletes .
Jack was born in 1929, the youngest of Fredrick and Nellie MacDonald’s five children. His father was a local policeman and his mother an immigrant from County Cork in Ireland. His first organized sports activities came at Gardiner H.S. where he played varsity basketball and baseball as a freshman.
For his junior and senior years, 1946 and 1947, Jack was a four letter man.
He quarterbacked the football team, started at guard for the Tigers’ basketball five and in the spring divided his energies with track and baseball.
He was a talented sprinter for the track team.
This is interestingly the 50th anniversary of the first official state baseball championship recognized by the State Principals Association, and tonight’s inductee, Jack MacDonald, pitched his team to the title -- a 4-3 win over Edward Little. As the tournament games were spread over the season, Jack pitched all of Gardiner’s playoff tilts. Ron McLeod’s 1947 Tigers were 16-0 for the season and MacDonald was II-0. And he also hit over .400.
Following his graduation, Jack was chosen at a Boston Braves Kennebec Journal-American tryout camp to play at Braves Field.
The game was billed as the New England Interscholastic All-Stars against the Boston Interscholastic All-Stars. MacDonald and Cony catcher, Dick Rand, were the Augusta camp’s selections over 60 attendees.
New England’s starting pitcher in the game was Lin Southworth, stocky Portland High ace, later a Braves farmhand (HoF’88) and the closer was Dick Carmichael of South Portland (HoF 76) also a subsequent Brave minor leaguer. Jack played in the outfield for 5 1/2 innings, had two singles in his two chances, including a game-tying single in the 8th inning and a stolen base.
Jack performed with a number of Central Maine’s fast semipro nines, including Barry’s Nine of Augusta, the Togus Down-tasters. the Augusta Millionaires and the Belfast Merchants. Although he was only 5’10" and 140 Ibs. he was described as having excellent control, better than average speed, and a wide variety of pitches.
Ben Houser’s Millionaires were a perennial powerhouse in Northern New England and Jack joins such teammates Andy Lano (HoF’82), Mike Puiia (HoF ’80) and Phil Dugas (HoF’94) in the Maine Hail.
For several years Jack was and A & P meat-cutter in Augusta.
He has a daughter and two sons and still lives in Gardiner where he loves to golf.
“His baseball skills and sportsmanship were admired by all who knew him” — Richard Rand, Jack’s Cony rival and Braves’ game teammate.
GARDINER -- John "Jack" MacDonald passed away on Wednesday, April 4, 2007
He was born in Gardiner on Nov. 6, 1929, a son of Frederick MacDonald and Ellen (Murphy) MacDonald.
He grew up in Gardiner, graduated from Gardiner High School in 1947 and attended the Coburn Classical Institute Preparatory School.
While in high school, Jack excelled in all sports, being one of the best four-sport athletes to come out of Gardiner. As an all-around athlete in high school, he was starting quarterback for his beloved Tigers and his small stature enabled him to "run like a deer and pass with pinpoint accuracy." His love was baseball and, as a starting pitcher and captain, he brought the team to win a state championship in 1947. Due to his speed, he was very good in track, with the 100-yard dash his best event. He also played basketball and proved to be a great starting forward. After school Jack played semipro baseball for the Augusta Millionaires and later for the Belfast Merchants. He played for the Boston Braves all-star team in the Downeast league. In 1997, he was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, an honor of which he was very proud.