MacDonald, Mike (2015)
“Baseball was always a deep passion for me, Growing up, I spent most of my time either reading, watching or playing baseball. I just took in all the elements of the game.
My love for it grew.”
- Mike MacDonald
“Maybe he didn’t have a 95 mph fastball. But he had great control, great competitiveness. You don’t last 9 years in pro ball unless you are smart, good character and are a great guy to have in the clubhouse.”
- Ken Joyce
If the game of baseball is a version of the child’s fable of the tortoise and the hare, Mike MacDonald is the tortoise. And what a steady, remarkable, resilient turtle he was.
Mike graduated from Camden-Rockport High School in 2000, and from the University of Maine at Orono in 2004. He was drafted in the l5th round by the Toronto Blue Jays and played nine seasons of professional baseball.
The Camden-Rockport graduate was a three sport star for the Windjammers, which included being a member of 2 Eastern Maine Class B Championship Basketball and Baseball games. In his final 2 seasons wearing the Windjammers uniform, Mike had a 13-3 record on the mound, pitching 103 innings, striking out 176 batters, walking only 35 with a 1.02 ERA. At the plate, Mike hit .431 his junior year and .409 his senior year, driving in 33 runs and stealing 18 bases.
MacDonald was recruited to play baseball for the University of Maine and during the four years of playing became an anchor for the staff. During his freshman season, Mike was 5-2 with an a 3.75 ERA over 52 and a third innings, helping to lead the Black Bears to an 11 game improvement and back into the America East tournament as the #2 seed. His sophomore season, Mike was 7-3 with a 3.44 ERS and 71 strikeouts in 86 and a third innings and Mike was named the America East Pitcher of the Year as well as selected to the first team All-Conference team. That season UMaine won 40 games for the only time since 1991, finishing first in the conference and going on to win 4 straight elimination games winning the league championship and earning a place in the NCAA Tournament regions. His junior year, the Black Bears were the #2 seed in the America East tournament and Mike was 7-5 with a 3.28 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 82 and a third innings and for his final year with the Black Bears, as a senior Mike was 6-3 with a 3.11 ERA and 91 strikeouts over 92 and two —third innings, as he was selected 2nd team America East All Conference, one of two Black Bears named to the All-Tournament team.
During his 4 seasons with the Black Bears, MacDonald had a 25-13 record with a 3.36 ERA and 284 strikeouts in 313 and two-thirds innings. His career strikeouts is the most in UMaine history, his 313 and two-thirds innings is second in school history and his 25 career wins is 5th in Black Bear history, with a total of 3 times being named America East Pitcher of the Week.
Former University of Maine coach Paul Kostacopoulos remembers MacDonald well. “He was a standout out for us over four years,” Kosty says. “He and Mike Collar came up through the ranks with us. When MacDonald and Collar were going to go for us in a doubleheader, it was a long day for the other team. It really was. Mike could do it all—throw hard, hit the corners, and he had a terrific breaking ball that he could locate well.”
MacDonald was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 15th round of the baseball draft and for the next 9 seasons pitched professionally, including the first five seasons in the Blue Jay system. In 2006 while pitching for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Mike was 13-9 with a 3.94 ERA in 28 starts and career high 103 strikeouts. That season, Mike was selected to play in the Eastern League All-Star Game, pitching a shutout 5th inning. During his career, Mike also pitched for the Angels, Giants and Red Sox organizations.
As a Maine born native, who also attended both high school and college in Maine, it was only fitting that he return to his home state as the first Maine native to play for the Portland Sea Dogs. Before finishing his career with the Red Sox organization in 2012, Mike went 3-2 Sea Dogs before being promoted in September to the International League Championship Pawtucket Red Sox.
When MacDonald started his pro career, he would soon run into Portland native Ken Joyce.
“I was coaching in Charleston, West Virginia, when Mike was drafted by the Blue Jays. I asked the Jays to send Mike to me; he was in the New York-Penn League; this was considered the Rookie Ball level. I was coaching in the South Atlantic League, Class A,” Joyce recalls. “He was impressive, a smart kid. I told the other pitchers to watch him.”
Joyce said MacDonald was “pitching to contact,” and “not trying to strike everybody out.” “I said he looked like Greg Maddux,” mentioning the Hall of Famer who had been with the Atlanta Braves most of his career, then finished with the Jays.
“I was with him one year,” Joyce recalls. “But later in his career, he ended up with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. I was their hitting coach.”
Joyce later was with the San Francisco Giants organization. He suggested they pick up MacDonald. They did.
MacDonald was always steady, Joyce says. Minor league coaches admired his professional demeanor.
“He had it all,” Joyce said. “Maybe he didn’t have a 95 mph fastball. But he had great control, great competitiveness. You don’t last 9 years in pro ball unless you are smart, good character and are a great guy to have in the clubhouse.”
True to his mid-coast Maine upbringing, MacDonald credits much of his drive and passion, and the eventual high level of sustained success in the game he loved, to the unwavering love and support of his parents Paul and Betsy, his wife Pam, and the innumerable coaches, friends, and family who cheered him along his remarkable journey into Maine baseball history.
Posted January 31, 2011
He’s not ready to give up Camden's Mike MacDonald is still plugging away in the minors, seven years after leaving UMaine. BY PAUL BETIT SPECIAL TO THE PRESS HERALD