The Maine Baseball Hall of Fame will now have two Joseph P. Walsh entries. Joe Walsh, who pitched with success at every level from Little League to the Baltimore Oriole farm system in the 1950’s and 1960’s, will join his grandfather, a great semi pro pitcher at the turn of the century. This is the first grandfather-grandson duo in Hall annals.
The younger Walsh was always a hard throwing right-hander. After good success in youth leagues, Joe became the mainstay of Cheverus Stag teams of 1964 and 1965. He was co-captain of the ’65 club. In 1966, he hurled for Bridgton Academy. After the stint with the Wolverines, he matriculated at St. Francis College in Biddeford for two years and at the University of Southern Maine in 1969. While at Bridgton, Joe threw a one-hitter against arch rival MCI.
During the summers of his collegiate years, South Portland’s Walsh, about 6’1’’ and 180, was a standout in the fast Portland Twilight League. While pitching for Bob Philbrick’s Ametek nine, Joe recorded an unprecedented pair of back-to-back no-hitters — against the league’s toughest opposition, the Yarmouth Townies. In 1967, Joe captained the Ametek club to the Maine Semi-Pro Title and Twilight League Championship. His exploits attracted the attention of big league talent hunters and, after a workout at Fenway Park and other look-sees, he was signed for a satisfactory bonus by Frank Seyboth, a Baltimore Orioles scout. Joe spent two years in the classy Baltimore system, pitching with the Stockton Ports of the Class A California League and Dallas Fort-Worth. In his first 30 innings with the Ports, he struck out 37 batters. Some of the tougher Cal League hitters Joe recalls were George Foster, Ron Cey, and Tom Paciorek.
Like so many practitioners of the world’s most precarious occupation, Maine’s Walsh developed arm problems. Trying to add a slider to his repertoire, Joe found his fastball losing velocity, base hits coming more frequently, and his right arm hurting.
Tonight, Joe will joint with his former coach Philbrick and another Maine contribution to the Orioles, Brian Swasey, to enter the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. He will probably, like most pitchers, be boasting about his hitting. He could swing the stick and quite often played third base when not pitching. In one Cal League boxscore, we found him getting two hits against the Fresno Giants. Don’t let him fool you! Behind the cockiness and bravado was a real tough hurler. He could bring ‘‘the heater’’!