Maine Baseball HOF
Mains, Billy (1970)
Willard Mains was born on Tuesday, July 7, 1868, in North Windham, Maine. Mains was 20 years old when he broke into the big leagues on August 3, 1888, with the Chicago White Stockings.
From Baseball Reference
Positions: Pitcher and Outfielder
Bats: Left • Throws: Right
6-2, 190lb (188cm, 86kg)
Born: July 7, 1868 in North Windham, ME us
Died: May 23, 1923 (Aged 54-320d) in Bridgton, ME
Buried: High Street Cemetery, Bridgton, ME
Debut: August 3, 1888 (Age 20-027d, 1,285th in MLB history)
Last Game: June 2, 1896 (Age 27-331d)
Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 1891 season
Full Name: Willard Eben Mains
Willard Eben Mains (July 7, 1868 – May 23, 1923) was an American professional baseball pitcher. He joined the National League at the age of 19 with the Chicago White Stockings, started two games in 1888, winning one and losing the other. After that season, he didn't return to the Majors until 1891, when he pitched in 30 games, starting 23 of them, for the Cincinnati Kelly's Killers of the American Association. He had a record of 12-12 with 20 complete games before he moved on and pitched two games for the Milwaukee Brewers, also of the Association. He wasn't seen again in the Major Leagues again until five years later when he surfaced for the 1896 Boston Beaneaters, with whom he pitched in eight games, winning three games, losing two. His son, Jim Mains pitched one game in the majors, for the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics.
Mains had a long career in minor league baseball, where he recorded a record of 318 wins and 179 losses in 545 games. Willard died at the age of 54 in Bridgton, Maine, and interred at South High Street Cemetery in Bridgton.
From Society for American Baseball Research
Part of the story of Willard Eben Mains is typical of the era, but his achievements during his baseball career are not. Mains pitched in professional baseball for 20 years (1887-1906). He played briefly in the majors; the bulk of his career was spent in various minor leagues, where he was the first pitcher to win more than 300 games.
When his career ended in 1906, only six major league pitchers (all future Hall of Famers) had reached 300 wins. Only Cy Young, Kid Nichols and Tim Keefe had more victories than his 334 total. Mains was arguably the best minor league pitcher of his day.
LAKES REGION WEEKLY Posted April 27, 2015 Updated March 17, 2016
It Happened in Windham: The man named ‘Grasshopper’
BY KAY SOLDIER ONE OF THE LONGEST-LIVED NAMES IN WINDHAM IS “MAINS” AND ONE OF THEM PLAYED PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL – IN ADDITION TO MAKING BASEBALL BATS. NOW THAT IT’S BASEBALL SEASON, WE’LL TAKE A LOOK AT ONE OF WINDHAM’S PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES. THEY CALLED HIM “GRASSHOPPER” OR “WILLIE,” AND HIS IMAGE ON A BASEBALL CARD RECENTLY SOLD FOR MORE THAN $2,600. A WINDHAM RELATIVE HAS BEEN COLLECTING NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS AND OTHER “MAINS” EPHEMERAE FOR A LONG TIME AND SHARED IT WITH THE WINDHAM HISTORICAL SOCIETY. IN A 2010 INTERVIEW WITH JIM MAINS, THE THEN-NEWLY ELECTED HEAD OF THE GREATER BRIDGTON LAKES REGION CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, LAKES REGION WEEKLY EDITOR JOHN BALENTINE ASKED HIM ABOUT HIS TIES TO THE AREA. MAINS RESPONDED: “MY GRANDFATHER, WILLARD EBEN MAINS, WAS BORN IN NORTH WINDHAM IN 1868. HE WAS A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER, PLAYED WITH THE 1888 CHICAGO WHITE STOCKINGS. HE MADE BASEBALL BATS IN THE OFF-SEASON. HE MADE THEM IN SANDY CREEK, HARRISON, AND EVEN A FEW IN THE FRYEBURG AREA. AND HE SOLD THOSE ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. MY FATHER WAS ALSO A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER AND HE RETURNED IN THE LATE ’40S, TOOK UP THE BAT BUSINESS AND ESTABLISHED A WOODTURNING BUSINESS. MY FATHER WAS JAMES R. (BUD) MAINS.” AT THE AGE OF 19, WILLARD “GRASSHOPPER” MAINS STARTED HIS CAREER WITH THE CHICAGO WHITE STOCKINGS IN 1888, AND PLAYED TWO GAMES – WINNING ONE AND LOSING THE OTHER. HE WENT TO THE MINOR LEAGUES AND PLAYED 545 GAMES – WINNING 318 AND LOSING 179. HE RETURNED TO THE MAJOR LEAGUES IN 1891, PITCHING IN 30 GAMES. TEAMS HE PLAYED FOR INCLUDED THE BOSTON BEANEATERS, MILWAUKEE BREWERS AND CINCINNATI KELLY’S KILLERS. HIS SON, JIM, PITCHED ONE GAME IN THE MAJORS FOR THE 1943 PHILADELPHIA ATHLETICS. AFTER HIS BASEBALL DAYS WERE OVER, WILLARD MAINS RETURNED TO MAINE, WORKED AT THE BASEBALL BAT BUSINESS AND DIED ON MAY 23, 1923. HE IS BURIED IN BRIDGTON. INFORMATION FOR THIS ARTICLE FROM THE WINDHAM HISTORICAL SOCIETY, PHIL KENNARD WIKIPEDIA AND FIND-A-GRAVE.