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White, Norman (2010)

White, Norman (10)

Although he was born and raised in Reading, Massachusetts, it is altogether fitting that Norman White’s accomplishments be recognized by the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, for it was in the close-knit towns of Central Maine that Norm had lasting impact as a player, coach and teacher in his all-too-brief career.

After graduating in 1939 from Wentworth Institute in Boston where he was a standout running back and catcher, Norman was recruited by several merchants in Dover-Foxcroft to play for the Sebec Lakers, the local semi-pro town team in the Tri-County League. Norman led the team to a 26-0 record and the league championship that summer and was named to the Eastern Maine All-Star team.

Norman returned to the Lakers for the 1940 season. At that time the team was coached by University of Maine star Hal Woodbury and boasted the likes of Wilson Francis, Jim Dyer and Ray Fucillo on a roster loaded with talent.

While playing in Dover-Foxcroft, Norman met and courted Priscilla Hathorn, the granddaughter of Clair Runnals, one of the merchants who sponsored the team. The two were married on December 21, 1941 and Norm, who had enlisted in the Army earlier that year, left a week later to serve his country in the Pacific Theater.

Norman rose to the rank of Captain while seeing action in the Philippines and New Caledonia. Baseball was a big deal in all the service branches during the war and Norman took every opportunity to play against the fast competition. A photo from that era shows a shirtless Norman White swinging from his heels in a ball game between the American and 37th Divisions witnessed by 3,500 service men in the Southwest Pacific.

Upon returning from the war and his discharge from the Army, Norman returned to Dover-Foxcroft and his family to resume his baseball career. On Sunday, September 2, 1946 Norman participated in one of the more memorable afternoons of baseball in Dover and Guilford. Backed by huge crowds from both towns, Dover beat Guilford 4-1 in Dover in the first game of the doubleheader. Norman was behind plate with his battery mate Wilson Francis on the mound. The teams then traveled to Guilford for the night cap, and after 11 scoreless innings, with Francis and White again the battery, Dover pushed across a run in the 12th for the win and the Penquis League championship.

Shortly after that game Norman entered Colby College where he handled the Mules catching duties for four years, being named captain his senior year and winning the coveted Ed Roundy Trophy as the team MVP.

Upon graduation from Colby in 1950, Norman and Priscilla landed teaching positions at Hartland Academy and the couple spent two years in Hartland. Norm taught English and math and coached cross-country, basketball and baseball while Priscilla taught English and coached prize speaking. In 1952, the Hartland Academy baseball team, under Coach Norman White, won 18 straight games and the Class M State championship.

In the fall of 1953, Norman and Priscilla moved back to Dover-Foxcroft where he taught history at Foxcroft Academy and again coached cross-country, basketball and baseball. In 1954, Norman coached the Ponies to a Class M State championship in baseball, beating Lubec 4-3 in 11 innings.

Norman White died suddenly on March 31, 1955 from complications arising from an asthma attack. He was 37. In his memory, Colby College established the Norman White ‘50 Award given for inspirational leadership and sportsmanship. The Maine Baseball Hall of Fame is pleased to add the gentleman Norman White’s name to the lofty pantheon of individuals who played, coached and taught their way to a prominent perch in Maine sports history.

White, Norman (10)

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