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Parlin, Bob (2008)

Parlin, Bob (08)

Bob Parlin’s most vivid baseball memory took place in 1949. As Parlin tells it, the potent Farmington Flyers, undefeated and likely on their way to an undefeated season in the North Franklin League, hosted tiny New Vineyard at Hippach Field. After six innings the New Vineyards, on the strength of Parlin’s runs-scoring double and right‑hander Elwyn McCallister’s tantalizing curveball, led the doughty Flyers, 3-0. “We had ‘em,” Parlin says, excited at the recollection. “They couldn’t touch McAllister’s curve.” But in the next three innings, the Flyers solved the mystery of McAllister’s curveball and scored six runs to topple the upstart cellar‑dwellers. “Wouldn’t you know it?” Parlin says and laughs.

Baseball was fun for Parlin. The New Vineyard town team played in a hayfield, grass sometimes so long a drive over the infielders would stop rolling before it reached an outfielder. He played there after the war, after a Japanese Zero attack on his LST in the South Pacific that Gunners Mate Parlin says “missed,” after four years of exceptional baseball at Farmington High School that saw the Greyhounds compile some of the winningest records in their history, after he had been tagged “Lefty” by Coach Gould and used at first base between stints on the pitcher’s mound because he could hit a pitch over the left field fence at Hippach Field. He became a small‑town‑baseball prodigy in New Vineyard, known for driving a baseball between the outfielders and frequently landing one in the woods regardless of the size of the hayfield.

In 1947 between Sunday afternoons, Bob married Alice. They built a new home eight miles down the road in Fairbanks and started a family that now proudly comprises three children, five grandchildren, and a number of great grandchildren. When the New Vineyards abandoned baseball in 1949, Larry Boyce recruited Parlin to play for the Temple Townies. In his first season there, he hit over .400 and three home runs, a Townies record, and for the next five years his hitting kept the Townies in the thick of the action in the Lakes Region League. When Parlin retired from the Townies, he was the only player in the league to have been elected to the Lakes Region League all-star team three times.

Following his career with the Townies, Parlin and some able volunteers organized the Fairbanks Red Sox, a youth team that has become Parlin’s legacy. In twenty-three years of coaching and caring under Bob Parlin, the Red Sox won 270 games and lost 62 in a Farmington‑area youth league. They won eighteen championships. They became Bob’s extended family. He respected them and inspired them. He treated sore arms and scraped knees. He provided rides to practices and to Fenway Park to watch their namesakes. He taught them the sweet swing he had used so well for the Townies and the New Vineyards and the high school Greyhounds. The Red Sox became the marquee team in the eight-team league.

But his most moving memory is how the Red Sox brought together Fairbanks village in support of the team. Neighbors and townsfolk turned out. “Everybody pitched in,” as Parlin tells it. They donated land and equipment and money; they worked long hours at the annual oyster stew suppers and other fundraisers; they provided transportation to out‑of‑town games and they showed up at every game, sometimes hundreds of them. “That was the whole thing, right there,” Bob says.

Parlin inspired his players to keep playing the game after the Red Sox, and the Red Sox eventually became a de facto farm team for the Mt. Blue High School Cougars. In time Bob followed his former players to the high school, as well, and he became assistant coach there for his son, Coach Gary Parlin, former Red Sox batboy.

“Bob Parlin has become a legend in Fairbanks, …” one of his townsfolk said recently. “No one will ever know how many kids’ lives he has touched.” He is loved in Fairbanks for making a difference.

From Legacy Pages

Robert E. "Lefty" Parlin, 89 1925-2014

"One of Bob's greatest passions was baseball. On Aug. 17, 2008, he was elected to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame to celebrate his legacy as a hard-hitting first baseman and legendary Little League coach."

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