Wing, Bill (2011)
Bill Wing discovered his fastball in the schoolyard at Richmond Grammar School in the mid-1940s. A pitcher from the beginning, Wing’s first official start on the mound came against Oakland High School in the 1940s at Richmond. Later, pitching for Morse High School in Bath, he struck out seventeen Brunswicks in an Andy Valley League game, setting a state of Maine record. In the summer of 1949, led by Wing’s dominant pitching, Smith-Tobey American Legion Post of Bath captured the State of Maine championship. Wing was a fastballer, overpowering, but with a deceptive curve. In the words of friend and teammate Bill Haggett, “Bill Wing was a dominant baseball pitcher in Maine in the 1940s and early 1950s … blessed with a major league fastball, good stuff, and excellent control.”
After graduating from Morse in 1950, Wing left Richmond for Ricker College in Houlton and pitched summers for the Houlton Collegians of the Maine-New Brunswick League, a fast class of ball that was said then to compare with Class B minor league play. Nineteen years old during his first summer in Houlton, he posted a 2.84 earned run average, struck our thirty-five, and, in his second start, was called on to stop a Houlton five-game losing streak. He did it with a five-hit win over Fredericton, New Brunswick, knocking the Capitals out of first place.
The next year, 1952, the Collegians won the Maine-New Brunswick League pennant. Wing improved his earned run average to 1.53, struck out 45 and logged the best won‑lost record in the league, 5-1. And the following summer the Collegians won a second championship behind fastballer Bill Wing, prompting Houlton sportswriter Jack Moran to write, “Other teams had mound aces, too. But when it was all over it was Bill Wing who was the best of the lot.” But Wing pitched one more game for the Collegians.
In October 1953 the Birdie Tebbetts All-Stars, a barnstorming medley of post‑season major leaguers, came to Houlton to play the Collegians, who had been bolstered by the addition of a Canadian player or two. Wing was named starting pitcher for Houlton. Mike Garcia, Cleveland Indians twenty-two game winner, started for the visiting All‑Stars. Johnny Pesky led off the game with a ground ball that caromed over pitcher Wing’s head into center field. “I was in trouble right off,” Wing says. But Wing retired the next nine All‑Stars—Mickey McDermott, Vic Wertz, Bobby “The Miracle at Coogan’s Bluff” Thomson, Al Rosen, Walt Dropo, Eddie Pellagrini, Jim Hegan, Garcia, and Pesky—in order. No more hits. No walks. One strikeout. At the end of three innings, he had dueled Garcia to a 0-0 tie.
Bill Wing pitched for the Colby College Mules two seasons, 1953 and 1954. In his second season there, Wing swept the State Series teams: He opened the season against Bowdoin striking out fifteen Polar Bears; he followed that outing with a three-hitter to subdue the University of Maine, the Black Bears’ only loss in its run for the State championship; and then he toppled the Bates Bobcats 5-3, striking out six, all complete games. He was named pitcher on the All-Maine baseball team. And Colby awarded him the Edward C. Roundy trophy as the most valuable player on the Mule nine. Following the 1954 Colby season, Wing pitched for the semi-pro Auburn ASAs in the Down East League until the Red Sox signed him to a minor league contract.
The Red Sox sent Wing to the Bluefield, West Virginia, Red Sox in the Appalachian League. Lou Clinton, who would later make the major‑league club, was on that team, too, and they roomed together. They both started out fast at Bluefield, Clinton hitting well enough to be promoted mid-season to Class B Greensboro and Wing pitching well enough—winning his first four starts, two of them shutouts—to be sent to the contending Salem Rebels, also in the Appalachian League, where he helped win the Appalachian League pennant for the Rebels. Wing’s record on the season was twelve wins four losses and a league-leading 2.79 earned run average.
At the end of the 1955 baseball season, Bill Wing met Sarah, and they married. He did not return to professional baseball. He and Sarah now live in Ooltewah, Tennessee. They have two children: son Steve and family in Billings, Montana; daughter Diana and family in New Albany, Ohio. Bill is retired from the General Electric Company and spends much of his time recounting his baseball memories. He has many. Induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, Sarah says, “culminates Bill’s dream of a lifetime.”
From Portland Press Herald
Posted July 28, 2011
BASEBALL: Wing set for Maine Baseball Hall induction
It's been many years since Bill Wing toed the rubber and threw a fastball past a batter. But there are still those who remember what that was like.
BY GARY HAWKINS STAFF WRITER
It’s been many years since Bill Wing toed the rubber and threw a fastball past a batter. But there are still those who remember what that was like.
“He threw very hard and he had excellent stuff,” lifelong friend Bill Haggett said. “He threw as hard as 99 percent of the pitchers in Maine at that time.”
Wing, 80, will be among 11 inductees to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame this Sunday at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland. He and his wife Sarah are flying up from Ooltewah, Tenn., where they’ve lived for more than 50 years. He expects at least 25 friends and relatives to attend the induction ceremony.