Ouellette, Roland (2002)
Roland was an outstanding high school catcher who many felt would have had a pro career. He was denied the opportunity. Roland was wounded in battle in World War II and instantly became a paraplegic. His greatest accomplishment wasn’t playing baseball, it was what he did for baseball and youngsters after arriving home in a wheelchair. He continued promoting baseball, coaching and guiding youngsters for decades.
When he arrived home from the Farmingham General Hospital after an agonizing two years in rehab, you could find him sitting in his wheelchair – baseball in one hand and glove in the other, smiling, It was obvious he never considered himself handicapped.
It was evident this man would dedicate a big part of his life to youth baseball. He became a positive influence on hundreds of youth. He was a coach, a friend and exceptional role model. He found time to build character, often by example. He never degraded anyone or showed partiality and, most importantly, he never expected anything in return. To see him hit and pitch batting practice from his wheelchair was a sight to behold.
Roland coached American Legion baseball, organized Little League in Farmington, coached the Jay Tigers, helped to start AYS in Jay/Livermore Falls, was in charge of all Jay ball fields (no pay), was a Jay booster, plus many, many others.
He and his lovely wife Barbara were blessed with seven children – five boys and two girls – all graduated from college. Roland received the Jefferson Award in 1980, Family of the Year in 1981, Family of the Year International runner-up in 1982. The Jay High School field is named the Roland A. Ouellette Field. The day of the dedication Gov. Angus King named the day “Roland A. Ouellette Day”.
This is truly a great American story about a man so well deserving to be named to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Welcome, Roland!
From the Lewiston Sun Journal Posted September 9, 2004
TOGUS – Roland A. Ouellette, 80,
Sept. 30, 1923-September 8 2004 He was a graduate of Jay High School, class of 1941, where he excelled in baseball, football and basketball. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, in the European Theater.
During his years in the Army, he played ball for the Tennessee (Camp Tyson) Barrage Balloons and the Louisiana (Camp Poke) Chemical Warfare.
On Friday, April 13, 1945, in Germany, he was hit by mortar fire in the back, severing his spinal cord, causing him to lose feeling from his hips down. He spent time in the First General Hospital in Paris and was flown to the states where he recovered in Framingham General Hospital for two years. He received the Purple Heart Medal for his service.
“I’ve hated every Friday the 13th since,” he said in the interview shortly before he was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1997, the Jay High School Baseball Field was dedicated in his honor and is now known as the Roland Ouellette Baseball Field. In 2002, he was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.