Pompeo, Peter “Buster” (2006)
It was a good time to fall in love. World War II was over, America’s game was beginning to rekindle the fervor of its pre-Pearl Harbor days and little boys discovered the wonder and glory of baseball.
Pete “Buster” Pompeo was the four year old batboy for Pallotta Oil, a team managed by his father, Peter, Sr. in the Twilight League.
“I used to love catching equipment,” said Pompeo. “I just fell in love with baseball.”
Pompeo’s fascination with the “tools of ignorance” never wavered during his playing days through Farm League, Little League, Babe Ruth, American Legions and the Twilight League.
He was also a catcher at Portland High School under the legendary Edson Hadlock. Pompeo was a center and middle linebacker on the football team coached by Bobby Graff. During his senior season, Pompeo was cocaptain with Dale Rand.
One of his high school memories concerns Deering star Mort “The Immortal” Soule. He threw Soule out on an attempted steal.
“He always reminds me,” said Pompeo. “He says, ‘You’re the only catcher to throw me out.’”
After graduating in 1963 (his classmate and football teammate Bruce Glasier is also one of today’s inductees) Pompeo completed a tour with the Marines, then learned the trade of upholstering from his father at the Portland Furniture Company.
Eventually Pompeo joined the Portland Fire Department. He served for more than 30 years, retiring in 1998.
During this time Pompeo began umpiring, averaging more than 100 games a season. Now, in his 33rd year behind the plate and on the bases, he has reduced this schedule to “60 or 65.”
Most of his assignments have been high school or American Legion with some minor league games in Winter Haven, FL, spring training site for his beloved Red Sox.
Pompeo prefers to work the plate, an influence he believes can be traced to his days as a catcher.
“I’m a plate man,” he says. “I’ve been involved in a lot of arguments.”
One involved Bill “Spaceman” Lee, the former Red Sox pitcher who was on a barnstorming tour with the New England Gray Sox. On a tap in front of the down first base line, Pompeo ruled the ball foul.
Lee disagreed. So obnoxiously that Pompeo excused him for the rest of the day. Enter the promoter who came out wailing about lost revenue if he were forced to refund ticket money to enraged fans. Pompeo thought about it. He changed his mind. He didn’t like it. But there it was. He the Spaceman back in the game.
Over his long career behind the plate, Pompeo said he has seen some changes both in the variety and quality of pitches high school players throw.
“I’ve seen a lot of good players come out of Portland,” Pompeo said. “The coaches have done an outstanding job. Sometimes I’ll ask a catcher, ‘What (kind of a pitch) was that?’”
“And once in a while I get an answer like that was a sinker with a little split on the side,” he laughs, shaking his head.
Through it all, Pompeo’s love affair with baseball has never wavered. He has been known to cry when the Red Sox lose and when they win.
Pompeo treasures the memories that began so many years ago and today joins his late father, Peter, Sr. a 1982 inductee to the HoF.
“I’ve made a lot of friends including coaches, umpires and fans,” he said. “I don’t regret one thing. I’d do it all over again.”
From Legacy Page Peter A. Pompeo, 71 May 27,1945 - July 14, 2016
An important part of Peter's life was baseball. Peter was a player and coach for many years with the Twilight League in Portland. He was also an umpire with Babe Ruth, Twilight League and Legion baseball. There were times that he also umpired college level games in the area. Peter had the honor of being inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. He is one of a handful of individuals that could say that he was a member of the Hall alongside his father. Peter also had a brief boxing career.
Peter had a long standing love affair with the Boston Red Sox. For many years, he would head to Florida for spring training with family in tow. It would always end up being a three-week adventure. He became a member of the BoSox Club and enjoyed meeting many of the players over the years.