Plummer, Dale (2009)
DALE PLUMMER INDUCTED INTO MAINE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME;
UMO STAR AND PRO PITCHER FOR 8 YEARS
Baseball is many things--and one of them is happenstance.
A guy excels at every level he plays at from youth ball to college to minors. He is poised for his shot.He waits for the day to come, the year to come, or the spring training call up where he hopes to prove himself--finally.
And what happens? A million things.
Team needs change. Coaching personnel change.
Personalities come and go. Arms get sore, rest is needed.
Balls hit pebbles in the infield. Instead of 4-6-3 and out of the inning, it is now runners at second and third, and a bloop hit, an HBP, a walk, a bad call, and you are reaching for the Lifebouy soap with a loss hanging around your neck.
If it only took talent or hard work or a lifetime of accomplishment on the ladder to the top, Dale Plummer would be finishing a brilliant Major League pitching career.
A l987 graduate of UMO, the hard throwing right handed was a solid member of the Black Bear team that went to the College World Series for the last time in l986. He went on to a great career in the New York Mets organization; the Bath native was a Met draft pick in June l988.
He pitched for the Mets organization, and later the Boston Red Sox organization, from l988 to l996. He appeared in more than l,450 professional games, compiling a 38-19 won-loss record with 29 saves. He made it up to the big club for MLB spring training in l995, but Lady Luck did not smile on him.
He called it quits a year later.
“Dale was a great player,” said Mike Pearson, who nominated him. “He has taken the same professional attitude he employed on the athletic fields to the workplace today.”
Plummer’s pro honors included:
*Webster Award from Mets minor league system for on and off field accomplishments, l993;
*Mets AAA Baseball Team Most Inspirational Player Award, l993, for overcoming health challenges;
When Plummer returned to Maine, he established Professional Baseball Experience Inc., a corporation to teach baseball to kids. He coached baseball at Gardiner High from l996 thru 2000, then at Bowdoin from 2001 to 2005. He later signed on for impressive years of coaching with Colby College.
Meanwhile, he holds down a fulltime job, and has, at Bath Iron Works, since l998 as Procurement Program Manager. “Dale’s success does not surprise me,” former UMO Coach John Winkin said during Plummer’s pro career. “He was a great pitcher and great leader for me at Orono in the l980s. You don’t forget guys like him. He was a good one. A class act.”
Plummer is the latest of several UMO Black Bears from the l980s to be inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Greatest 21 Days ~ April 5, 2011
Dale Plummer's Colby College Mules gathered around their coach for their post-game talk.
Colby had just had a tough day at Hartford, Conn.'s Trinity College, losing by a score of 19-8.
"The good thing about this," Plummer quoted himself as telling his players, "is we get to go home, take a shower, get a good meal and then come back and do it again tomorrow."
While the Colby College Mules could count on coming back to do it again, there was once a time in Plummer's life when tomorrow was far from a certainty.
Before his college coaching career, Plummer played seven years in the minor leagues, for the Mets and the Red Sox. But, in 1992, in the middle of his fifth season, third with time at AAA, Plummer felt a pain in his midsection.
That pain, turned out to be cancer.
He had gone from being a pitcher on the brink of making the major leagues, to a cancer patient, unsure of what would happen.
But he made it back, eventually signing with his childhood team, the Boston Red Sox. He went from not being able to run between two telephone poles, to being told by his manager he'd gotten called up to the major leagues. But call-up came with the realization that he couldn't go - an injury meant he couldn't pitch.
He also couldn't realize his childhood dream of playing for the Boston Red Sox.
"It's going to be with me for the rest of my life, it really is," Plummer told The Greatest 21 Days. "I try to make the best of it. The game's a tough game. I had the baseball rug pulled out from underneath my feet more than once."
"I tell them the game's the same," Plummer said. "It really is. Instead of competing against the pitcher, or competing against the other team, you're really competing against yourself."
"I had a lot of faith in God," Plummer said of that time. "When you find out something like that, there's nothing you can do, so I just gave it up to Him. Because there was nothing I could do.
"Life was on hold for a while, until we got through the treatments."
Plummer got through the treatments. But the treatments took their toll. He recalled trying to run between telephone poles. He couldn't even do that.
Those telephone poles, he recalled, became the benchmark for his come back.
"It was tough," Plummer recalled. "It was really tough to come back. But I worked every day. I made sure I went at least one more telephone pole every day. That was my goal."
"I had nothing to lose," Plummer added a short time later. "I was out of the game. I almost died. I had nothing to lose. That's why enjoy each day put the uniform on."
His come back earned him a slot back at AAA for 1993. He went 7-3 with four saves and an ERA of 5.16. After that year, Plummer was released. He went unsigned for 1994. Plummer returned for spring 1995, with the Red Sox. He also became a replacement player. It was a decision that Plummer said was an easy one.
He knew several union members. He'd roomed with Mo Vaughn years earlier in the Cape Cod League. He also knew big league guys he'd played with at AAA.
But Plummer wanted to play baseball. He also had bigger plans than simply playing in the majors.
"Coming from Maine, being a Red Sox fan lifelong, I just wanted to win the World Series. And that was my goal," Plummer said. "And if those other guys in the clubhouse didn't want to win the World Series, then so be it. But, if I got called up and they wanted to give me crap, then too bad on them.
"The game had been taken away from me a couple times, and I battled back, taking advantage of any opportunity I could get," Plummer added. "I just wanted to win a World Series for the Sox."
After his retirement, Plummer started his coaching career. By 2001, he was an assistant at Colby rival Bowdoin College. In 2006, Plummer moved to Colby as an assistant. In 2007, he took over the top job.
He joined Colby the year after the historic program didn't win a game, going 0-27. By 2008, Plummer's Colby Mules were 18-14.
"I tell the guys that come to Colby that they've got to love the game, every recruit that comes in my office, that if you don't love the game of baseball, then it's not going to work out for you at Colby," Plummer said, "because you've really got to love it."
The goal, Plummer said, isn't just to be good, it's to win.
"They're definitely here to get their education," Plummer said, "but this enhances it. This baseball opportunity enhances their education. Hopefully, it's gonna get them through in life, when things don't go their way."