Putney, Vern (1984)
Legend has it that Vern Putney was weaned on baseball, so it was only natural that he start the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
Combine this baseball background with Putney’s sensitivity for acknowledging athletic achievement and it 1s no wonder the former sports writer for Guy Gannett Newspapers was able to pull the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame through its stormy beginning.
“Stormy is the right word,’ Putney said. “One stormy January night in 1969, the first edition of the Portland Press Herald proclaimed in a banner headline eight charter choices for the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. ‘The managing editor demanded to know by whose authority Fred Parent, Bill Carrigan, Harry Lord, Del Bissonette, Louis Sockalexis, John (Jack) Coombs, Don Brennan and Clyde Sukeforth were vested in such royal raiment.
“Frankly, I had no answer. Someone had to start the ball rolling, I did’
With the help of baseball promoter John J. (Magnate) Haley and sportswriter Dick Doyle the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame held its first banquet and now entering its 15th season and holding its’ annual dinner at Portland's Italian Heritage Center, the Hall owes Putney, more than any other person, its’ lofty status.
Although Putney stepped down from overseeing the Hall two years ago, leaving the job in the capable hands of Leroy Rand, he still helps out diligently behind the scenes. In a world overloaded with takers Putney is a giver, unconcerned about recognition, satisfied to work in anonymity.
“I love working on the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame,” Putney said. “The people who go into the Hall value it. For many, it’s the highlight of their baseball career. I enjoy giving people their just due.” Weaned on the national pastime in Lynn, Mass. and Portland Vern saw the first night baseball game ever played in 1926 and knew all of Lynn's ballfields by the time he was 3 years old’ by his father Elbert, a great pitcher. It is now due time for Putney’s just dues. No journalist in the state has done more for baseball or, in fact, other sports.
A smile. a good word and endless help for anyone, that’s Vern Putney.
Legendary Maine sportswriter and Golf
Course News Contributing Editor Vern Putney
passed away in December. On short notice, we
published his obituary last month. The GCN
staff has written the following addenda:
When it launched in 1989, it was Vern
Putney and me — a lick and a prayer, not
necessarily in that order. He had spent 40
years covering golf and other sports,
oftentimes more as a crusader than simply
a reporter. He gamely pushed for space on
the sports pages for women's sports —
especially female golfers and runners like
Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit
Samuelson, a friend of his... because it was
right. He started a semi-pro football team
in Portland, Maine — yes, Portland,
Maine... because it was right to have one.