Small Luther (1990)
Luther Small’s name is synonymous with American Legion baseball and tonight the Hall of Fame will honor this dedicated and tireless worker for the youth of Westbrook and its surrounding communities.
Luther realized a childhood dream when he played second base for Westbrook High's Telegram League champions in his senior year of 1938. All sons of Sacarappa yearned to play at the hallowed Warren League grounds and Luther was no exception. And led by Capt.
Ken Wright, the Telly loop’s batting champion, the Blazes took the title.
Luther played for the WAPPCO’s (Warren Paper Co.) in the Portland Twilight League and for a number of teams in the Westbrook Twi League before World War II short-circuited his diamond doings. Like countless other young men of that time, Luther answered his country’s call and just as surely he returned bereft of many of the skills, and especially the quickness of his youth. Realizing his playing days were coming to a close (today Luther pastimes in the Senior League), Luther found an interesting challenge in the Junior Legion baseball program. Although there had been some Legion teams in Maine dating back to 1928, there had been no local league.
In 1948 Luther Small helped to found the first local Junior Legion baseball league. Two of Luther’s teammates in the Hall of Fame, Carroll Rines and the late Hank LaVallee, were also present at the initial meeting and a fourth H of F’er, Blaine Davis, was serving as the State of Maine Athletic Officer for the Legion program. From that humble beginning - there were six teams represented - the legion program has expanded to a well-organized zone arrangement with over 30 teams struggling to qualify for berths in an exciting state tournament and Luther Small has been part of it for all of these years.
Luther has coached, managed, served as statistician, been district and zone commissioner - done anything to insure a strong program. He is presently the Zone 4 commissioner. He has always provided strong leadership - never afraid to make a decision.
For 43 years Luther was associated with Westbrook’s Manchester Post team. Most of these years he was the loyal, indefatigable righthand man for Joe Morse or Jimmy Burrill, two excellent coaches he introduced to the program. He was a vital cog in four state championships -1953, 1965, 1986, and 1988 (A sweet ending for his managerial tenure). Three of his top players - Johnny Cumberland, Billy Hamilton and Ricky Swan - have already entered the Hall of Fame and tonight he will be reunited with “Bunky” Buotte, another ex-Manchester star.
Luther has been married to his lovely Rhoda, a very enthusiastic baseball fan, for 45 years and has two daughters, Mrs. Arthur Leighton and Mrs. Janet Corbett.
Congratulations to a true sportsman - a man of Class and character.