“I’ve finally figured out how to coach and get these things across without overwhelming the kids. One thing I can tell you about coaching, young kids learn it just as quick as college kids. It’s just how you go about it. These players have college maturity minds right now, they know every aspect of the game inside and out. In the last 4 years these kids have played in over 320 baseball games. That’s my passion now.”
“In 1991 Gary Williamson was the Regional MVP and World Series MVP on the team that won the first National Championship that a Maine team had ever won. He hit the biggest home run in the history of USM when he came to the plate in the ninth inning of a tied game against Eastern Connecticut. With two out and the bases loaded, he hit a 3-2 pitch far over the left field wall that propelled the team to the World Series. He was one of the all-time greats at Southern Maine.”
For Gary Williamson his passion for the sport runs extremely deep and based upon his unselfish commitment and dedication is being recognized by the Maine Baseball Hall OF Fame.
William’s talents started innocently on the field in Western Maine and his reputation grew immensely at the University of Southern Maine and nationally. He has continued to give back to Americas Pastime as a coach on the youth level where a fruitful career began.
‘’I really had no idea the talent I had in High School. I was a decent baseball player in HS,’’Williamson said. ‘’I feel my talent was raw and undisciplined at that point of my playing career.’’
Along with his high school best friend, Rick Roy. the Telstar Rebels won the Western Class C Western Regional championship in 1988 and then proved it was no flux by winning the 1989 Class C state championship at the University of Maine.
Telstar had a core group of Seniors when they won it, all of the team were very competitive, real tough kids, and for examples, groundballs that eat up normal players, these players ate for lunch. This included Tommy James, Jim Merrill, Roy, John Eliot and Corey Duguay. Bob Remington was an excellent coach who spent a lot of time with those core players, having coached a lot of them from little league right up thru high school.
Williamson was recruited very aggressively by former St. Joseph’s coaches Jim Graffam and Jeff Benson. Benson was the hitting coach and worked countless hours with Williamson to improve his hitting mechanics.
‘’Jeff Benson was a hellava coach. I can’t thank him enough,’’Williamson said. ‘’I honestly can’t remember a time he refused he to throw me extra batting practice. He took a raw high school baseball swing and tamed into a collegiate swing with discipline.’’ After one season, Williamson decided to transfer to USM, due to the fact that Graffam and Benson was leaving, also. At USM, his career and personal life reached the next level, which included meeting his met future wife Julia.
In 1991, Williamson was the regional and World Series Most Valuable Player (name on plaque at MLB HOF in Cooperstown, NY) on the USM team that won the National Championship; first ever by a won by a Maine team. In fact, Williamson developed a flare for the dramatic and was always willing to accept a challenge. He hit the biggest home run in USM history, when he came to the plate in the ninth inning of a tied game against Eastern Connecticut. With two outs and the bases loaded, he hit a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall, that propelled the team to the WS.
‘’Gary played the game the way it should be played. He was a fearless competitor,”USM head coach and MBHOF Ed Flaherty said. ‘’He played hard all the time. He was sound fundamentally in all aspects of the game. He was ultra-aggressive with the bat and the way he ran the bases. He made others around him better because of the aggressiveness he played with.’’
Williamson’s statistics are still quiet prominent in the USM record books:.379 career batting average ranks 15th on all-time list; 26 home runs rank 5th; .676 slugging percentage ranks 4th. He always hit third or fourth in the batting order and was a feared hitter. ‘’It was one of the most special years I had in baseball. I was fortunate to be surrounded by the hardest working players I have ever seen. The work ethic and toughness on this team was amazing. We were a loose fiery bunch of players that feared absolutely no one,’’Williamson said, the lineup featured Rick York, Jim Dimillo, Jim Broughton, Mark Caron, Steve Claire, Jon Collins, Scotty Dutton, Bob Prince, Pete Misiaszek, Mike Welsh and others. That ‘91 team holds a lot of career stats for USM as a team.
‘’Coach Flaherty...He’s a remarkable man. By far the best coach I have ever been around,’’Williamson said, who operates Four Seasons of Maine Reality. ‘’When Flaherty’s team takes the field they are prepared to win I can tell you that. There was never a second of practice that was wasted. He can teach fundamentals like no other coach I’ve seen. More importantly about coach Flaherty he prepares young men to become men. He cares so much about each player on the field and off the field.’’
That speaks volumes about a coach, who once excused Williamson so he could return to his native Andover and cut wood.
After college days, Williamson joined the Pine Tree League and continued to amaze.PTL baseball in the summer was so much fun back in the 80’s and 90’s. Williamson played for the West Paris Westies early on with coach Mark Thurlow as coach, and best friend Lance Bean.
‘Mark made the game fun, he was fiery and charismatic. I use to think about baseball all day on game day and could wait to get to the ball field in west Paris,’’Williamson said, bandbox Perham Field would attract approximately 500 fans to some games with its old time wooden-covered grand stands. ‘’Obviously the grand stands filled quickly, and that’s when you would see (late) Les Thurlow’s hat wagons lining up down the left field line where people would sit on those. The elderly, would sit behind home plate in lawn chairs, and the kids ran everywhere. Some nights I can tell you it was wild atmosphere.’’
Umpires have to run for there cars at the end of the game!!! There was no political correctness at the West Paris field, but that’s just the way it was back in those days. Nowadays people would get harassment charges for what transpired (But it was fun) and other teams couldn’t wait to play the Westies. That’s when the word rivalry really meant something and there was some ole fashion baseball being played. Meaning you look at someone the wrong way you might be picking a baseball out of your helmet, however, it was competitive baseball.
Williamson was humble, not one to go out cocky and say or draw attention to himself. He was quite versatile and played every positions, including a dominant right handed pitcher; with a lively fast ball and outstanding curve which enabled him to be effective.
Williamson was a four-time league MVP 1996-99 and a five-time league champion Dixfield ’96-97 Bethel ’99 West Paris ’00-01. William was influenced by father Gary Williamson, Sr, who wasn’t the type of dad that was all in his son’s face.
He provided positive reinforcement and instilled the confidence to be the player, possible. The elder never missed a game from Florida to Maine, all over.
In 1999, he was recognized by Sports Illustrated as one of the ‘’50 Greatest Sports Figures from Maine. He was 41st on that list.
Williamson was known for clouting mammoths home; twice hitting the former tower at Lisbon and clearing the former tall pine trees at Harlow Park in Dixfield.
For the past 16 years, Williamson has been giving back as a youth baseball coach and has been privileged to teach sons, Buddy, Hunter, Wyatt, Wylie.
‘’I’ve finally figured out how to coach and get these things across without overwhelming the kids. One thing I can tell you about coaching, young kids learn it just as quick as college kids. It's just how you go about it,’’Williamson said, who has coached the same group of kids now since they were 9 years old. Their now 14 years old and have won four-state championships, and Tri-County finished #2 in the 2015 National Babe Ruth World Series. ‘’These players have college maturity minds right now, they know every aspect of the game inside and out. In the last 4 years these kids have played in over 320 baseball games. That’s my passion now.’’
From Bob McPhee Lewiston Sun Journal
Williamson's statistics are still quiet prominent in the USM record books. His 379 career batting average ranks 15th on all-time list. He is fifth with 26 home runs.
''It was one of the most special years I had in baseball," Williamson said. "I was fortunate to be surrounded by the hardest working players I have ever seen. The work ethic and toughness on this team was amazing. "We were a loose fiery bunch of players that feared absolutely no one,''
Williamson said the lineup featured Rick York, Jim Dimillo, Jim Broughton, Mark Caron, Steve Claire, Jon Collins, Scotty Dutton, Bob Prince, Pete Misiaszek, Mike Welsh and others. That '91 team holds a lot of career stats for USM as a team.