Putnam, Murray (2002)
Visitors to Southern Aroostook Community School in Dyer Brook don’t have to question if the baseball field bears a name.
It is difficult not to see the huge sign to the left of the school designating the complex “The Murray W. Putnam Baseball Field”.
Since 1968, including pre-season, regular season, exhibition, pre-playoffs and state tournaments, Putnam’s teams have won more than 480 games, a winning percentage of .830.
This includes games in all state classifications. (Southern Aroostook is now Class D under the formula devised by the Maine Principals’ Association.)
Equally impressive is Putnam’s record for “countable” games – 350-89, a winning percentage of .800.
His teams have won 10 Eastern Maine championships in Class C and Class D and five state titles. He was voted “Coach of the Year” by the Maine Baseball Coaches Association in 1989.
“If Murray coached in Southern Maine with more media exposure, that distinction probably would have been repeated several times,” said Fredric V. Stone of Casco, a Maine Baseball Hall of Fame inductee in 1993.
Putnam combines dedication to and knowledge of baseball with a kind, low-key personality that creates a bond of loyalty and respect among former players. The is evident when the Warriors play at St. Joseph’s College in Standish for a state championship.
“Legions of former players and fans come out to support him,” said Stone. “If Murray were not tucked away up there in the County, he would be a legend. He ranks alongside of Edson Hadlock (Portland High) and Fred Harlow (Deering High) and other great coaches whose accomplishments have been recognized and who have had fields named after them.”
The 56-year-old Putnam is a native of Houlton. He graduated from Ricker College in 1968 and earned a Master’s degree in education administration at the University of Southern Maine in 1990.
After five years at Oakfield High School (1968-1973), Putnam moved to Southern Aroostook as athletic director and baseball coach. Since 1986, he has added the responsibilities of assistant principal.
The school’s baseball field was named in his honor in June, 1979, the same year Southern Aroostook won the Northeastern Maine League (abolished in 1985) and the Eastern Maine Class C championship.
Putnam’s success is no accident. He devotes his summers to coaching and teaching baseball to age-group teams including pee wee and Babe Ruth. In 1996, he coached the Houlton-area-all-star team to the Babe Ruth championship.
Each year he takes his high school team to Cape Cod for a week of pre-season practice and competition.
Putnam’s winning statistics have elevated the Southern Aroostook coach to the top of his profession. But they don’t define the man. He is more than a remarkable record.
“Anyone who has been associated with Eastern Maine athletics knows and respects Murray for his dedication to the game of baseball,” said Jonathan Porter, a physical education teacher at Southern Aroostook.