Sprague, David (2012)
Dave Sprague grew up in Gorham and took advantage of the strong baseball programs that the community offered. Very supportive parents (Helen and Art Sprague) and Phil Dugas were the first adults to offer instruction and encouragement. Dick Beatty took over at the high school level and built championship baseball teams. Teamed with Terry Hadlock and Alan Wentworth from 1964 - 1966, Dave anchored the talented infield at shortstop. He batted .473 as a sophomore, .327 as a junior and .406 as a senior as the Rams won or was in contention for Triple C Championships.
In the summer, Dave played Babe Ruth League baseball for coaches Bob Logan, Bill Day and Dugas with the Standish Kiwanis and Sebago Lake Region All-Stars. In American Legion ball, he played for Dugas and the Smith-Wagner Post of Gorham and for coaches Joe Morse and Luther Small with Manchester Post of Westbrook. Once high school ended, Dave was recruited by Jack Butterfield of the University of Maine and John Winkin of Colby College, but he chose to attend Springfield College because of their nationally acclaimed physical education program.
His freshman year in baseball was excellent as he batted .360 and played a solid shortstop for coach Dick Bartsch’s 7-1 freshman team that featured four players that had been drafted by major league teams. Dave shared shortstop duties on coach Archie Allen’s varsity squad his sophomore year and ended the season batting .250. Mononucleosis sent Dave to the sideline for his entire junior season.
The 1970 baseball season at Springfield was one of the best in the school’s history. The Chiefs finished the season with a 24-10 record and played in just its third College Division Baseball World Series. They finished fourth in the nation in the College Division. Dave batted .278 and made only four errors for the entire season as Springfield’s shortstop.
In a press release released before the College Division World Series, Coach Allen called Dave one of the best shortstops that he had in his many years at Springfield. At Springfield’s baseball reunions, Dave is remembered as the player who was hit in the head twice in the same game by Dartmouth’s hard-throwing Pete Broberg, the top draft pick by the Oakland A’s in the 1970 Major League draft.
It was back in Maine during the summer breaks that Dave really excelled on the diamond. Yarmouth manager Charlie Turner called Dave as soon as the 1966 American Legion season ended and he played in two season-ending tournaments for the Townies. A full summer season in 1967 with Yarmouth led to a .387 batting average and a second-place finish for the batting title that was won by Harris Oil’s Brian Gordon.
In 1968, Dave moved to Bob Philbrick’s Ametek Redskins and finished second in the batting title race again as Haverty Buick’s Brian Swasey hit an astronomical .480 to Dave’s .383. Dave was named the league’s MVP, however.
In 1969, Dave finally won the Twilight League’s batting title for Ametek with a .429 average. Ametek’s Dick Curry was second (.377) and Yarmouth’s Hadlock came in third (.349).
Dave’s final year in the Twilight League was in 1970 as he batted .417 for Ametek, but Mort Soule, also of Ametek, won the batting title and MVP award with a .466 average. Dave was named the Maine Baseball Association Governor’s Tournament MVP at the end of the season.
At the end of the 1970 baseball season, Dave was drafted, but not by a major league team. Uncle Sam came calling in the last year of the Military Draft. So he could get married and start a teaching career, Dave joined the Maine National Guard. He married Cindy Mangieri of Ruttland, Vermont, accepted a position as a physical education teacher in Bennington, Vermont and transferred to the Vermont National Guard. He retired last August after teaching in the same school district for 40 years.
During those 40 years, Dave coached at all levels of baseball in Vermont and New York State. He also was a scout for the Chicago White Sox and a sportswriter for the Bennington Banner in Bennington, Vermont. As a speed improvement instructor, Dave worked with major league baseball players and a WNBA player.
The 41 years of marriage produced two children. Michelle, age 35, graduated from Cornell University in 2000 with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree and from the University of Vermont in 2012 with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. She now resides in Eugene, Oregon with her husband Dave Downing and is a physical therapist with Oregon Neurosport Physical Therapy. Anthony, age 32, graduated from Cortland State College in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He was a captain of the Division III Dragon’s baseball team that participated in the Division III College World Series all four years of his career. Anthony is now the Director of Sales for the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple AAA team for the New York Mets.
Cindy, a 1970 graduate of Castleton State College, was a teacher and a librarian in the Bennington area. She has refused to fully retire so she is a part-time waitress now.