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  • Writer's pictureMaine Baseball HOF

Sockabasin, Clayton and Patrick (2010)

Clayton Sockabasin

You can now add the names Clayton Sockabasin and Patrick Sockabasin to the “All-Downeast” team, joining Cutler’s Neil Corbett and Steve Cates, Eastport’s Omar Norton, Dennysville’s Howard McFadden and Cherryfield’s Carlton Willey, among others, to that legendary list of Washington County ballplayers who contributed mightily to the rich lore of Maine baseball history during the heyday of town team ball.

Clayton and Patrick were born six years apart and grew up in Peter Dana Point near Princeton in Indian Township. The boys’ dad, Lola, played for the local town team and playing baseball “was all we had to do”, notes Clayton. “We played ‘scrub’ every day, all day, until we couldn’t see.”

As teenagers, Clayton and Patrick started “going around with” the Peter Dana Point town team, whose roster was already stocked with Sockabasins and by the mid-1960’s, both were significant contributors to the team.

In those days, Peter Dana Point played in both the Border League and the Quoddy League, comprised primarily of rural coastal towns such as Machias, Eastport, Cutler, Milbridge and Cherryfield, where the popularity of home-grown baseball was surging and town teams provided a competitive outlet for local pride and identity.

Often playing five games a week, Clayton and Patrick thrived in this environment and soon became the mainstays of the Peter Dana Point ball club. Embodying the timeless wisdom of Honus Wagner (“There ain’t much to being a ballplayer ….. if you’re a ballplayer”), Clayton and Patrick were ballplayers. Clayton was a dominant pitcher possessing an above-average fastball and sharp-breaking curve, but also a feared hitter. Newspaper accounts commonly reported Clayton striking out 11 or 12 batters a game while going 2 for 4 himself with a home run. Patrick was primarily a shortstop but his athletic skills allowed him to excel on the mound and behind the plate as well. Patrick regularly led his teams in batting and home runs.

With the Sockabasin brothers leading the way, Peter Dana Point was a perennial contender in both the Border and Quoddy Leagues during the 1960’s. Intense rivalries developed among neighboring towns and duels against the powerhouse Cutler Cardinals were Downeast classics. In 1967, Clayton struck out 22 in a 3-0 shutout over a Cutler lineup that included eventual Maine Baseball Hall of Famers Howard McFadden and Steve Cates and Coach Neil Corbett. Patrick, as a 14-year old was the winning pitcher in the 1964 Border League championship game, striking out 9 in a complete game effort.

In 1969, Clayton and Patrick were recruited by the Milltown, New Brunswick entry in the New Brunswick Senior League. Patrick hit a league-leading .450, Clayton was an overpowering pitcher, also hitting .330, and the pair led Milbridge to its first-ever regular season championship. Milltown also traveled up to Mattawamkeag that year to play in the Blue Ox tournament. Clayton dominated Dick DeVarney’s strong Bangor team with a 12-strikeout effort and Patrick chipped in with two home runs. In the second game Patrick threw a 5-hitter against Cutler, adding another home run, and Clayton collected four hits of his own. (continued on the next page) ⊄

Their performances at the Blue Ox earned them an invitation to a major league tryout that fall in Sanford and in September Clayton and Patrick signed professional baseball contracts with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 1970 the boys played most of one season in Bradenton, Florida for the Pirates Rookie League entry. By most accounts, the brothers acquitted themselves very well and the Pirates wanted them to continue developing. However, Clayton’s wife was pregnant with the couple’s second child that spring and when his son was born Clayton got homesick and decided to return to Maine and his family. Though encouraged by Clayton to stay and play, Patrick soon thereafter followed his older brother home. Their decision, while understandable, was disappointing to many who had seen them compete and felt they had a genuine chance at making the big leagues.

Clayton and Patrick continued their lustrous careers with the Peter Dana Point Indians in 1970-1971. In 1972, Clayton moved to the Brunswick area and joined Bo McFarland and coach Stump Merrill on the Bath-Brunswick team in the Twilight League. Patrick joined long-time friend Jim Maxwell on the Fredericton Moosehead Vikings in the New Brunswick League and let the team to the league championship and Maritime Provinces crown, pitching a four-hitter and clouting a two-run homer in the title game against Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.

In the mid-70’s, Clayton and Patrick reunited on the Peter Dana Point Team and renewed their Washington County rivalries. Not only did the team compete in two leagues, it regularly advertised in the papers looking for teams to play throughout Maine and New Hampshire. It was not unusual for Peter Dana Point to play 50-60 games each season and travel to tournaments in Mattawamkeag, Lamoine and Thomaston.

In 1978, Patrick led the Border League in hitting with a .460 average and again in 1980 with a .500 average. Clayton enjoyed several undefeated seasons on the mound and one year pitched and won both games of a doubleheader against Machias to win a best-of-three Quoddy League championship.

Both men played well into the 1980’s. By then Patrick had moved up to Indian Island in Old Town and played his last season for Bangor, leading his team in home runs at the age of 40. Clayton pitched his last game when he was 46.

By the time they hung up their spikes, Clayton and Patrick Sockabasin had compiled an impressive body of work in careers that spanned nearly three decades. Though accurate records were not always available, Clayton likely won over 250 games and had a lifetime batting average over .300. He was the dominant pitcher in every league and tournament he competed in both in Maine and Canada. Patrick probably hit over 200 home runs in his career and had a lifetime average close to .400. Both were premier ball players of the golden era of town team baseball, and their induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame is richly deserved.

Patrick Sockabasin

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