Timberlake, Stan (2012)
Stan Timberlake’s daughter, Sheila, recalls her father’s baseball career this way: “For me,” she writes, “Pettingill Park (in Auburn) was fun on the swings. But for my father, Pettingill Park was where history was made.”
Stan Timberlake was a triple-threat baseball player. His repertoire included a bewildering fastball and curve, a swing that often produced doubles, triples, and homers, and the speed to steal second, third, and home in succession and chase down fly balls into the farthest corners of the Andy County League’s outfields. But he was a pitcher first.
In a 14-year career with the Turner Townies, the crux team of the Andy County League (nee Twin City League) in the 1950s and 1960s, lefty Timberlake won more than 170 regular season and playoff games and lost perhaps thirty, a .850 winning percentage. When he wasn’t pitching, he alternated at first base and in the outfield, hit second in the Townies’ batting order, and threatened to score from anywhere on the base path.
In 1957, Turner and Timberlake made a run for the ACL flag. Timberlake pitched two no hitters and a perfect game that season, led the Townies to the ACL championship, and won the Yankee Amateur Baseball Congress (YABC) tournament at Pettingill Park—where history was made—in Auburn. His playoff pitching (undefeated) and hitting (.565) resulted in his being awarded the YABC’s E.A. Pelletier award for the most valuable player in the tournament. The Townies traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan that year to play in the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC) national championship tournament.
Later, after three more ACL championships with the Turner Townies, a YABC appearance at Pettingill Park with Mechanic Falls, and a trip to Battle Creek with Chi‑Liv, Timberlake took on a new challenge with the Townies, player-manager. In 1963 he played and managed the Townies to an 11-0 regular season record and the Andy County League championship. In the YABC qualifying tournament at Pettingill Park, he struck out nine Lisbon Merchants and drove in the winning run to clinch a trip to the AABC regionals in New Haven, Connecticut.
Timberlake would return to the YABC tournament as the Townies’ player‑manager three more times—in 1964 when pitcher Timberlake clinched a spot with a 2-1 win over Mechanic Falls, in 1965 when manager Timberlake put pitcher Timberlake on the mound two consecutive days and he twirled two wins to get his Townies into the tourney , and in 1967 when the Townies streaked to eleven consecutive wins at the end of the season to nab first place in the ACL, the last win a one‑hit shutout by Timberlake who struck out eleven.
Four times—Mechanic Falls, Lisbon Falls, Chi-Liv, and the Lisbon Legion—Timberlake was invited to join a YABC qualifier as a roster add‑on. In all, he went to the YABC playoffs nine times, pitched five victories with no defeats, and added who knows how many hits, runs driven in, and stolen bases to his Pettingill Park numbers. And he made a second appearance in the national AABC tournament in Battle Creek when Chi‑Liv invited him onto their roster in 1958.
During his baseball-playing heyday, Timberlake’s exemplary baseball skills were widely known. As a youth, he was recruited by the Cushing Academy, a college prep school in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, to attend school there and join their athletic program. Later he was invited to attend Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, and play baseball. And still later, after major-league scouts had observed him at Pettingill Park—where history was being made—he was offered a chance to try out with the Cincinnati Reds. But Timberlake was a home-town boy, eventually landing a full-time job there and taking on family responsibilities of his own. For him, baseball was evenings after work and Sunday afternoons.
Timberlake’s baseball career ended in the 1970s following a number of years of working with Turner’s little league, a team that he helped establish, as coach and assistant coach. A short time after retiring from baseball, he retired from driving stock cars at Oxford Plains Speedway, as well—a successful endeavor that had resulted in a his winning the Oxford Plains 6-cylinder championship in 1969—and concentrated on his golf swing. He still plays competitive golf at his home course, Turner Highlands, where he frequently nabs the annual senior golf championship and is known for at least one hole‑in‑one.
Stan Timberlake is a modest man. He doesn’t dwell on his athletic exploits. (When pressed, however, he might tell you about the time Bob Baumer (HOF 2011) of the Lisbon Falls Roberts 88’ers drilled a “single” at him in right field, and Stan threw him out at first base.) But he performed consistently over a period of many years as an exemplary baseball player, manager, and mentor, an example of baseball excellence. Adrien “Drig” Fournier (HOF 2004), a baseball luminary from Timberlake’s heyday, says, “It was an honor to play against him.”
Stan lives in Howes Corner now with Erica, and entertains three grandchildren and two great grandchildren with stories of his history‑making baseball days.
Maine Baseball HOF: Timberlake helped put Turner on baseball map
BY RANDY WHITEHOUSE, STAFF WRITER Posted August 1, 2012
TURNER — Like a lot of boys of his generation — and only a few more generations to follow — Stan Timberlake would get home from school, hop on his bike and ride three miles to the nearest baseball field.
Timberlake would meet his friends at the North Parish Road diamond and play until supper. He would race home to eat, and once he cleared the last crumb off the plate, he would jump on the bike again and pedal furiously for another three miles so he could squeeze as many innings as they could out of the fading sunlight.
“We lived to play baseball,” he said. “Of course, there weren’t the things to do then that there is now. We played baseball and we played more baseball.”
Little did Timberlake know at the time, but he and many of his friends would one day put their tiny farming town on the baseball map.
The Townies played independently for a year before joining the dying Twin City League. The lefthander patrolled the outfield or first base and had the power and bat control to hit anywhere along the top half of the batting order. But the Townies were often at their best when he was on the mound.
And he was on the mound a lot. He’d often pitch nine innings on Friday and toe the rubber again on Sunday for both ends of a doubleheader.
“I never had a sore arm. I had tired arm, but sometimes when I was tired I had a better curve than when I was strong,” he said.
Coming from a tiny farm town, the Townies could barely get enough players to fill their roster, so they would often draw from surrounding towns. At various times, Timberlake counted among his teammates Maine Baseball Hall of Famers Drig Fournier, Al Davis, Steve Lancaster and fellow 2012 inductee Wilfred Laverdiere, as well as Fern and Reggie Masse, Ronnie Desjardins, Johnny Lawler and Joe Spano.
“We’d play baseball, then we’d go back and hay when we got done, and we’d get most of the guys to go with us,” Timberlake said.
Town team baseball drew large crowds, and the Townies had a large and faithful following that supported the team at home and on the road.
“One night, we went to West Minot and we only had nine players for some reason or other,” he said. “Andy Woodard, a guy we’d picked up in Auburn, was the first batter up. The first pitch was just about even with the top of his visor and the umpire said ‘Strike.’ He was the father of a couple guys that played for West Minot. Andy turned around and said something to him, nothing really bad, and the ump said, ‘You’re out of the ballgame.'”
“Well, he knew we only had nine players,” Timberlake added. “I was managing and I went out to get my two cents worth in and I got thrown out, too. So we started packing up our stuff to go home, and they said, ‘Come on, stay. We’ll give you a couple of our players.’ They wanted to pass the hat because we had such a crowd with us. We said we’d go back to Turner and practice.”
In 1957, a scout from the Cincinnati Redlegs offered Timberlake a shot at playing professionally, but with a wife and young son to support, he decided to stay in the hay fields.
Besides, playing baseball in Maine could still be lucrative.
“I played in two French-Irish games (held at Pettengill Park annually). I think I got 125 bucks. That’s more than I made in a week,” he said.
Like many of his town team peers, Timberlake moonlighted for other teams when the Townies weren’t playing. He played for Bates Manufacturing and the Lisbon 88ers, and made another trip to Battle Creek with Chi-Liv in the early 1960s. The Auburn Asas tried to recruit him, too, but Timberlake had to decline the invitation to keep a roof over his head.
“Well, I was living with Paul Varney at the time and he wasn’t very happy (with the Asas). I would have been sleeping in the barn if I’d ever gone,” he said.
Timberlake started developing other interests in the late 1960s and his playing career wound down. He took up golf and raced stock cars at Oxford Plains Speedway (He beat track legend and Turner neighbor Mike Rowe one year for the Charger championship). He also helped organize Little League baseball in Turner.
He stopped playing in 1972, but the Turner Townies will live on in the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame when Timberlake is inducted on Aug. 5.