top of page

Search Results

603 items found for ""

  • Dean, Warren (Red) (2001)

    The "Dean of Competitiveness” is how Lewiston Sun Journal sports writer Bob McPhee described the intense on-field demeanor of Warren Red Dean. With the posthumous induction of the Greenville native, the Maine Baseball! Hall of Fame adds a man widely admired for both his fire and compassion. Warren Dean grew up in Greenville, and early on displayed extraordinary precociousness for the game that would soon become his life's passion. At the age of 14, Red was playing town team ball in the Penquis semi-pro league with mostly adult players, including his father Merle. During his senior year, Red captained the football and basketball teams at Greenville High School to state championships. His snapping fastball attracted the attention of several professional baseball scouts and Red signed a contract with the Milwaukee Braves in 1956. Unfortunately, an injury curtailed the promise of big-league glory and Red returned to Maine, graduating from Farmington State Teachers College (now the University of Maine at Farmington) in 1961. Upon graduation Red remained in the Farmington area with his wife Jane and young family and embarked on a prolific teaching and coaching career, first at Wilton Academy and later as head of the math department for 27 years at Farmington (later Mt. Blue) High School. Red's gift of inspiration through instruction carried over onto the playing fields as well and he became a highly respected coach in football, basketball, cross-country and baseball, winning an incredible six consecutive Mountain Valley Conference baseball championships during one stretch. Paralleling the unfolding of a brilliant coaching career was an equally lustrous return to town team ball. With his by now polished mound skills, Dean achieved near-legendary Status playing for the Farmington Flyers of the Pine Tree League. Red was truly an all-around ballplayer -- a fireballing pitcher, a sure-handed shortstop, a formidable hitter with a lifetime batting average over .360, and always the trademark Dean fire and ferocity. Red also played several seasons with the Dixfield Townies, helping them win three championships. Chandler Woodcock, a former student of Red's who presided at his funeral in February, evoked the burnished image of Red Dean pumping fastball after fastball through the blazing lights at storied Hippach Field, the unmistakable "thwap” into the catcher's mitt punctuating the warm July night. It was “good old country hardball!” at its best, and few were better suited for that style than Red Dean. Yet this ferocious competitor was also "the kindest, gentlest man I’ve ever known and an incredibly devoted grandfather,” says his sister Cheri Nelson of Farmingdale. “He valued everybody. Once you knew him, you never lost touch with him. He brought out the best in everybody. He had a great arm but an even greater heart.” "If Passion drives, let Reason hold the reins,’ wrote Ben Franklin. Reds competitive nature sprang from a deep appreciation of the special bond between athletes competing against one another. He astutely realized that the highest measure of respect you could accord the game as well as your opponent was to play hard all the time. Red often recounted with great admiration the caliber of ballplayers whom he had competed against -- fellow 2001 inductee Johnny Colgan, 2000 Hall of Famer Bitsy Ionta, Toppy Washburn, Vaughn Steadman, John Hoffencker and Arty Taylor among others. Red's later avocations in life -- skiing, golf and running -- were pursued with the same passionate and competitive enthusiasm that marked his earlier playing days. He was named Maine Runner of the Year by Runner's World Magazine in 1986 and in 1988 he was named Runner of the Year by the Maine Track Club. Red still holds many age-group records for races across Maine and New Hampshire. The woven thread of family devotion, fiery competitiveness, natural teaching gifts and passionate enthusiasm that made up the fabric of the life of Warren Red’ Dean ended sadly February 7, 2001 while Red was recovering from hip replacement surgery, less than a month after learning he had been selected for induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. To ensure the continuation of the Red Dean legacy, Mt. Blue High School and the Dean family have established a scholarship in his name. With his induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame today, the legacy is assured. Farmington High School’s last year of baseball and its dynamic coach May 13, 2020 By Roger G. Spear The 1968 team. Team member names appear in the photo. (All photos courtesy of Mt. Blue High School Library)Coach Dean (right) studies the game situation from the bench. (All photos courtesy of Mt. Blue High School Library) By the fall of 1967, coach Warren “Red” Dean’s Farmington High School Greyhounds baseball team knew that the upcoming spring season would be its last. Farmington High baseball had enjoyed a long and rich history of success dating back to its 1914 and 1915 state championships. In June 1967, SAD 9 District voters approved a $2.7 million bond issue to construct a brand-new district high school. The new school was slated to open in 1969. The school’s new name was decided by a district-wide naming contest. The winning name, Mt. Blue High School, was submitted by Farmington High School librarian Dorothy Sayward, mother of Farmington High School/Mt. Blue High school teacher/coach, Galen Sayward. As the Farmington High School players were prepping for their final season as Farmington High, local fans were wondering if the team could repeat as the Mountain Valley Conference champions, after having won it the previous two years. After all, key players and co-captains Mike Callahan, Mike Leavitt, and Paul Coombs had graduated the year before. However, there was considerable optimism given the return of veteran starters Larry Barker in center field, Dave Leavitt at third base, Jon Scarlett pitching and playing shortstop, Jim Bouffard pitching and playing shortstop, Brad Cook in right field, and Bill Hodgkins at first base. On April 23, 1968, Farmington opened its last year of baseball in Bethel against Gould Academy. The Farmington Greyhounds prevailed 4-0 behind the one-hit pitching by its ace hurler Jim Bouffard. Gould’s only hit was an infield single in the second inning and Bouffard then retired the last 16 hitters. Jon Scarlett led the Farmington hitters with three hits. Farmington’s next game was a close 4-3 victory over the Livermore Falls Andies behind the clutch pitching of Jim Bouffard, who went the distance allowing three hits while striking out 14 and walking only two. Farmington scored three runs in the second inning when Bill Hodgkins led-off with a walk, Dave Scarlett then doubled and Steve Moore singled to score Hodgkins. Scarlett scored on an error then Bouffard singled to drive in Moore for the third run. Farmington scored what proved to be the winning run, in the fifth inning when Jon Scarlett singled, Brad Cook reached on an error, and Larry Barker singled to drive in Scarlett. Leading hitter for Livermore Falls was Randy Hastava; Dennis Grover put in a solid pitching performance for the Andies. The third game of the season was against the Pintos of Mexico High School. The Farmington Greyhounds came away with a lop-sided 21-8 win at Hippach Field. On May 7, Farmington bats were unleashed against arch rival and next door-neighbor Wilton Academy. (The two teams would merge the following year as part of the new Mt. Blue High School.) The Farmington nine prevailed 19-5. Greyhound back-up players getting into action were Steve Waite, Don Heath, Richard Mosher, Kurt Reynolds, Scott Hemmingway, Bob Decker, Bill Jones, Larry Alexander, Chuck Loring and Ed Morin. Dave Leavitt had three hits for the Greyhounds. Leading hitters for the Eagles were Forrest Scott, Bruce Stinson, and Chip Sargent. The Greyhound pitching staff: Jon Scarlett, Steve Moore, Doug Jones, and Jim Bouffard all shared in the mound duties. The team continued its winning streak on May 9 by nipping Gould Academy 5-4 at Farmington’s Hippach Field. Jim Bouffard pitched a complete game. This was Bouffard’s third win of the young season and his 10th in a row having gone 7-0 the previous year. The game was tied 4-4 in the bottom of the last inning. Bill Hodgkins opened the inning with a single and Steve Moore sacrificed him to second. Alan Coombs grounded out moving Hodgkins to third and then Freshman Dave Scarlett singled to win the game. On May 11, the Greyhounds defeated Dixfield High School 9-1 in a non-conference game. Steve Moore had an excellent day at the plate going four for four. Bill Hodgkins drove in three runs. Jon Scarlett pitched a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts. Scarlett lost his shutout when he gave up a home run in the final inning to Dixfield’s Dick Collins. Senior Co-Captains (pictured left to right): Allan Coombs, Steve Waite, Brad Cook, David Leavitt, Bill Hodgkins, Jon Scarlett, Jim Bouffard, Larry Barker, Don Heath, Coach Red Dean. (All photos courtesy of Mt. Blue High School Library) Farmington won its seventh game in a row on May 21 in Mountain Valley Conference competition with a 13-0 victory over Mexico. The win clinched the northern division title of the MVC. The Greyhounds put the game out of reach early by scoring six runs in the first inning. Pitcher Jon Scarlett blanked the Pintos over six innings. Doug Jones retired Mexico in order in the final inning. On May 23, in its final regular season Mountain Valley Conference game, Farmington shut out Wilton 11-0 at Hippach Field. Those in attendance witnessed a no-hitter thrown by Jim Bouffard who struck 16 out while walking only two. Whether Farmington High School could win its third consecutive Mountain Valley Conference championship came down to playing southern division champion Williams High School of Oakland on May 28 at Kyes Field in Fairfield. In the championship game the Greyhounds got off to a very troubling start for Coach Dean as ace pitcher Jim Bouffard gave up an unprecedented three runs in the first inning. It was at this point Dean, displeased with his team’s performance, pulled his team off the bench and held an impromptu “pep talk.” This meeting was recently described to this writer as extremely heated to say the least! Dean was a fierce competitor who demanded and expected his players to play to their maximum ability. Once Dean’s Farmington squad returned to the field, the game changed. Bouffard settled down on the mound and pitched a complete game striking out 14. Greyhound bats came alive, catapulted by strong performances from Brad Cook, Larry Barker, Dave Scarlett, Dave Leavitt, Alan Coombs, and Bill Hodgkins. Final score Farmington High School 17, Williams High School 6. After the game Co-Captain Bill Hodgkins was hoping Coach Dean wouldn’t think that his “pep talk” won the game because Hodgkins knew, from the start, that his team would win the championship with or without the need for special (colorful?) words of inspiration! By season end, the last for Farmington High School baseball, the Greyhounds had won their third consecutive Mountain Valley Conference Championship with a record of 10-2, that included two non-conference losses to old nemesis Kents Hill School. Also, the Farmington team had won 24 consecutive games in the Conference. Unfortunately, state championship games were not contested during the 1960s. If they had been, Farmington High School would have been a force to be reckoned with. At the June 3, 1968, Farmington High School scholastic and athletic awards ceremony, a trophy was presented to the baseball player “who contributed the most to the ball club.” The trophy, in memory of R. Stewart Whittier, perhaps the best player ever to play the great game of baseball at Farmington High School., was presented by Whittier’s son Rick to Jim Bouffard. Bouffard finished his stellar three-year pitching career with a 17-2 record and a 0.98 earned run average! His remarkable 17 wins is the Farmington High School all-time record. Coach Dean once joked to this writer that Bouffard “couldn’t break a pane of glass with his fastball! But he had “good stuff” and could locate the ball wherever he wanted it–on or off the plate.” Hitters just couldn’t figure out his pitching style. Dean also indicated that Bouffard had a huge competitive spirit. Perhaps second only to his own! One of Bouffard’s most memorable wins, besides his no-hitter over Wilton Academy at Hippach Field, was against Mexico High School’s star pitcher, Stan Thomas, who later pitched in the Major Leagues for the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. Dean continued to coach baseball at the new Mt. Blue High School through the 1972 season, after which Peter Sickles became head coach and Galen Sayward assistant coach. During his nine years of high school coaching, Dean compiled a highly respectable 80-36 win/loss record. Dean’s brand of baseball can be characterized as intense, compassionate and highly competitive. Lewiston Sun sports writer Bob MacPhee, in describing Red’s intense on-field demeanor pitching town team ball, referred to him as “The Dean of Competitiveness.” Dean’s competitive nature sprang from a deep appreciation of the special bond between athletes playing against one another. He astutely realized that the highest measure of respect you could accord the game of baseball, as well as your opponent, was to play hard all of the time. Red’s zeal for competitive sports dated back to high school in Greenville. As a senior he captained his football and basketball teams to state championships. His blazing fastball attracted the attention of major league scouts. He signed a contract with the Milwaukee Braves in 1956. Unfortunately, an injury curtailed the promise of big-league glory. Red Dean passed away in 2001 from complications following surgery, less than a month after learning he had been selected for induction into The Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. He was inducted posthumously that year. His induction was accepted by his son Tim, at a ceremony in Portland, on behalf of the Dean family. On May 9, 2003, Red was honored and remembered by friends and family at Farmington’s historic Hippach Field with the dedication of a new remote-controlled scoreboard in his name. At this ceremony, Red’s sister Cheri, said her brother “brought out the best in everyone. He had a great arm but an even greater heart.” Roger G. Spear, UMF Vice President Emeritus, is a well-known authority on local sports history and is currently working on a manuscript of local baseball, 1865-1956. He can be reached by email:

  • Collette, Louis (2002)

    Louis Collette grew up in West Farmington and graduated from Farmington High School in 1947. Louis was truly a gifted athlete, doing it all in football, basketball, track and his great love, baseball. He was the creme de la creme on the baseball diamond. He was the complete package: he could hit for average, hit with power, possessed blazing speed on the base paths, and could run down fly balls with the absolute best and had a strong and accurate throwing arm. After high school “Sonny” was recruited to play for the Farmington Flyers Semi-Pro Team in Farmington and was later named to the All-Star team for West Central Maine. Louis had a try-out with the St. Louis Cardinals the summer of 1948 and was signed to a minor league contract by the great John Dickson, who was chief scout for the Cardinals in the area. In the spring of 1949 Louis reported to the Cardinal training camp in Albany, Georgia and started the regular season with the Hamilton Red Wing Club in Hamilton, Ontario where he was the starting center fielder. From there on he was assigned to the Geneva Club in the Alabama League and the Salisbury, Maryland Club on the east shore, ending the season with a .308 average. Louis played a total of five years in pro ball. He elected to serve in the military at the height of his career during which time he played in the Transporters International League for four year. Upon completing his military obligation he reported for spring training in 1955 when he incurred an injury that rendered his throwing arm “dead”. He enrolled at Gorham State Teachers College and later graduated “with honors”, from Montana State University with a degree in physical education. In the fall of 1959 he started his long and successful teaching and coaching career in Maine, first at Lisbon High School, later Rockland High and Brunswick High until his retirement. As a ball player and later as a coach, Louis was an exemplary specimen of physical fitness who never asked a student or player to do a physical activity he couldn’t personally demonstrate beforehand. Always a gentleman he had the respect of his team mates, students and his contemporaries. His sense of propriety, his virtue and his belief system set him aside from others – he was truly a great athlete. Welcome, Louis, to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Remembering Farmington’s greatest baseball player, Louis Collette BY ADMINISTRATOR JULY 18, 2022 Roger Spear and Louis “Sonny” Collette at the 2002 Maine Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Portland, Maine.By Farmington baseball historian Roger G. Spear Louis “Sonny” Collette grew up in West Farmington and attended the West Farmington Grammar School before entering and graduating from Farmington High School in 1947. While in grammar school there was no organized baseball for local youths, but the game was nevertheless, played on area sandlots. Collette’s first nickname “Slugger” was given to him by teachers and students in grammar school as a result of his hitting on the field next to the school. It all started when he hit a long drive through a school window. Collette’s teachers, to prevent “Slugger” from doing it again, reoriented the layout of the field. Shortly thereafter, “Slugger” ripped a long foul ball that went through another school window. After that “Slugger” was instructed by a teacher to choke up and learn to be a spray hitter. However, that didn’t work; because Collette was always destined to be a power hitter. Once in high school, Collette’s athletic abilities became known throughout Franklin County and beyond. He was a five-sport letterman. His 1945 track team won the county and the state championship when Collette set a state record in the 120-yard hurdles. In 1947, he and teammates Lee Gray, Herb Wing, and Richard Green set state records in the 440- and 880-yard relays. Louis Collette was also a member of the school’s winter sports team and excelled in cross country snowshoeing. His 1945-46 basketball team finished the season with a 21-2 record. He was a gifted football tailback who simply outran the opposition, scoring eight touchdowns in a shortened season. He was named to the Class B All-Maine Football team. But baseball clearly showed that Collette was, as one former teammate described, the crème de la crème. He was the complete package: he could hit for average, hit with power, possessed blazing speed on the base paths, could run down fly balls in the outfield with the absolute best, and had a strong and accurate throwing arm which kept opponents from taking liberties on the bases. He could throw the baseball like no one else. These are the special qualities fans love and scouts look for in a ballplayer. After starring at Farmington High School, Louis continued his pursuit of a professional baseball career by playing summer ball. In 1948 he was recruited by local Coke-Cola owner, Cash Clark, to play on his very first semi-pro Farmington Flyers baseball club. The Flyers was the start of a local baseball dynasty that became well known throughout New England as a highly-competitive organization that recruited its players from throughout the northeast. That summer, Collette, by a popular local vote through the Franklin Journal newspaper, was named to the league’s all-star team. While Collette was enjoying a successful 1948 season with the Flyers, on June 25 the Franklin Journal announced that the Major League Baseball St. Louis Cardinals would conduct a baseball tryout camp at Bates College in Lewiston on July 7 and 8. The announcement said, “Every boy in the vicinity who feels that he has what it takes to become a professional baseball player is invited to enroll for a try-out.” Collette attended the try-out and as a result of his performance was signed by the Cardinals. The chief scout, in charge of the east coast for the Cardinals, indicated that he was especially proud of signing Collette. In the spring of 1949, Collette reported to the Cardinals’ minor league training camp in Albany, Georgia and was later assigned to the Hamilton Red Wing Baseball Club in the Pony League in Hamilton, Ontario, where he was the starting centerfielder. In late June, Collette’s contract was assigned to the Cardinals’ farm team, the Geneva County Baseball Club in the Alabama State League, where he hit at a .303 clip. On August 21 he was transferred to the Cardinals’ farm team in Salisbury, Maryland which played in the Eastern Shore League. After arriving in Salisbury, Collette immediately became the dominant player for his team. He ended the 1949 season with a combined .308 batting average with all three clubs. For the 1950 season, Collette was initially assigned to the Albany Baseball Club in the Georgia-Florida League, but before the season started his contract was transferred to the West Frankfort, Illinois Cardinals farm team playing in the Mohawk Valley League where he played the entire 1950 season. Collette was known locally as a speed demon and that reputation followed him in his professional career. In August, 1950, a Major League scout with the Boston Braves clocked him circling the base paths in 14.2 seconds when he hit the first ever inside the park home run at West Fork’s Memorial Stadium. The scout remarked, “That’s big league running.” During that 1950 season Louis kept up His outstanding hitting by closing out the year with a .297 batting average. Louis “Sonny” Collette and a St. Louis Cardinals scout congratulating Collette on the signing of his professional baseball contract. On October 24, 1950, Collette was assigned to the St. Joseph, Missouri Cardinal’s club in the Western Association League. However, before he was able to report he was drafted and he elected to serve in the U.S. Air Force for four years. During his tour of duty Collette was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas where he was able to play baseball all four years with military teams in the Transportation International League. During those years Louis continued to excel on the diamond and honed his skills in preparation for his return to the Cardinals organization in hopes of joining the likes of Musial, Schoendienst, and Slaughter at the Major League level in St. Louis. In 1953, while still in the Air Force, Collette received a letter from the Cardinals’ Major League office which stated in part, “It was a unanimous opinion that we expect our organization to be a better and stronger one after you leave Uncle Sam’s service and rejoin us.” In 1955 Collette reported to the Cardinal’s spring training, where he incurred an injury that rendered his throwing arm “dead.” At that point in his aspiring career, Collette was expected to be the “complete” ballplayer and his strong accurate throwing arm was an essential tool of the trade for success. As a result of the injury and seeing the end of his dream of becoming a Major League player dashed, Collette requested and was granted his unconditional release from the California League by the Fresno Cardinals. Not deterred and anxious to pursue another career Collette entered college to enable him to become a teacher/coach. In 1959 he graduated, with honors, from Montana State University with a degree in physical education. He was also MSU’s assistant baseball coach during his senior year. In the fall of 1959 Collette started his long and successful teaching and coaching career in Maine. His first position was at Lisbon High School teaching physical education and coaching football, track, and baseball. In his second year as football coach, he took a 1-10 football team in 1959 to an undefeated Maine Class B State Championship in 1960. One of his former players once remarked, “Even though Coach Collette was a great coach, more importantly he became the ultimate role model for all of the students at our school.” In 1965, Lisbon High School honored Coach Collette at the dedication of its new football stadium. After two years in Lisbon, Louis returned to Montana State for a year and earned a Master’s Degree in Physical Education. The following year he came back to teach and coach at Rockland High School. For five years he remained at Rockland. As a football coach he helped develop a football program at which time noted sports columnist Dick Doyle wrote, “Collette likes being a fundamentalist developing green material … A school is fortunate to have and keep such a builder.” Coach Collette also was instrumental in leading Rockland High to its first ever Kennebec Valley Conference baseball championship. In 1968, Collette accepted a position as teacher and coach at Brunswick Junior High School, where he remained for the next 16 years until his retirement. While in Brunswick he coached football, track, and was athletic director. As a track coach his philosophy was to give everyone a chance to develop a specialty. In the eight years Collette coached track he continually had one-third of the school’s enrollment, usually 120 boys and 80 girls out for the sport. During those eight years his track team compiled an amazing 55-2 record. The year after he retired, the program’s annual 200 participants dropped to just 25. His special touch with his students and constant encouragement to succeed was greatly missed after his departure. Collette’s former principal said Louis was a very positive and professional staff member who was serious about his responsibilities and expected the same from those with whom he worked. He was truly a team player, demonstrated a quiet confidence, and contributed much to the overall success of Brunswick Junior High School. Another education colleague once said, “Every kid should have a Louis Collette in his or her life.” For more than 20 years as a teacher, Collette taught a unit on the great American game of baseball. He proudly felt that this effort influenced many of his former students to take up the national pastime and enjoy it as an interested lifelong fan. As a ballplayer and later as a coach, Louis Collette was an exemplary specimen of physical fitness who never asked a student or player to do a physical activity he couldn’t personally demonstrate beforehand. Nothing changed. In 1990, at age sixty, he won 3.3 and 7.1-mile road races at Eastport’s annual Fourth of July celebration event. In 1999, competing in a Senior Olympics Golf Championship at Myrtle Beach, Collette won the event. A former teammate and friend said, “If you could see the way he hits a golf ball off the Tee it would give you an idea of his past baseball hitting ability.” In 2002, Louis Collette was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Louis “Sonny” Collette, while living in Bingham, Maine passed away this year at age 92. Roger G. Spear, UMF Vice President Emeritus, is a well-known authority on local sports history (especially baseball) and is currently working on a manuscript of local baseball, 1865-1956. He can be reached by email:

  • O’Gara, Brian (2018)

    “I love the game on the field, the history and traditions and statistics. But what I also see through our MLB events - and I definitely saw through that struggle - is how impactful Baseball is even beyond the field of play, as a force of positivity in people’s lives. I’m really proud to be a part of this game, and appreciate this great honor from the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.”. - Brian o’gara A native of Westbrook, Maine and a member of their 1979 Little League state champion team, Brian O’Gara has served as an executive in Major League Baseball’s headquarters in New York for 28 years. Along the way, in his role directing the ballpark ceremonies, entertainment and game presentation operations for MLB’s major events, he has been a part of some of Baseball’s biggest moments. Over a quarter century of World Series drama, All-Star Game celebrations, Home Run Derby slugfests — along with domestic and international showcase events — have all been part of O’Gara’s tenure in the Special Events department for the Commissioner’s Office, during a time of major growth in the game. But dreams of the Major Leagues started on Longfellow Street in Westbrook, Maine. “Almost every night before going to sleep I’d pretend to pitch the final out of the World Series,” recalls O’Gara, “throwing a rolled-up ball of socks across the room to a target on the wall.” Now, after the final out of the World Series, he has a different role than the one he pictured during those childhood days: O’Gara and his MLB colleagues coordinate the World Series Trophy presentation. After Game 7 of last year’s Fall Classic, when he delivered the World Series trophy to the stage for Commissioner Rob Manfred to award to the Houston Astros, it marked O’Gara’s 143rd World Series game. Growing up in Maine, O’Gara’s Little League team won two Westbrook titles and he was part of the city’s first state Little League champion in over two decades. His parents – Phil & Patsy O’Gara – were avid Red Sox fans, and the family made an annual trip to Fenway Park the highlight of each summer. After 4 years at Westbrook High, O’Gara enrolled at the University of Notre Dame thanks to academic scholarships and summer job money from S.D. Warren paper mill. “Anyone who drove past the old Exit 8 in Westbrook and got a whiff of S.D. Warren can pretty much guess what I smelled like after working those overnight shifts scraping sludge plates. But that was really good money for a college kid.” Covering Notre Dame’s football and strong national athletic program for the college newspaper, and interning in the ND athletic department, O’Gara caught the bug for the sports business that propelled him to Major League Baseball. He had great mentors at Notre Dame who are all still close friends today. Pat Murphy (now the Milwaukee Brewers bench coach), Bubba Cunningham and Bill Scholl (now Athletic Directors at North Carolina and Marquette, respectively) and many others were instrumental in helping O’Gara channel his drive and work ethic.. Currently the Vice President of Special Events in the Commissioner’s Office, O’Gara is responsible for planning and producing the ballpark events for MLB’s largest dates on the calendar. He regularly directs All-Star players and Hall of Famers through major nationally-televised ceremonies, and has met every living President. He orchestrated MLB’s stirring tribute to Ted Williams at the 1999 All-Star Game in one of his final appearances at Fenway Park, and on-field ceremonies that has allowed MLB to use its biggest platforms to honor heroes from all walks of life, including our nation’s veterans, community heroes, and baseball icons.. MLB’s current Little League Classic, bringing two teams to Williamsport, PA in conjunction with the Little League World Series, has special meaning for O’Gara going back to his Westbrook days. His 1979 Maine Little League state championship team reached the Eastern regionals and fell just few games short of Williamsport.. O’Gara’s work has taken him to all 30 ballparks, several countries including Cuba and Japan, and some of the most iconic places in Baseball. But the Little League World Series stands out for him. “It’s such a great representation of our game today. Enthusiasm, skill, sportsmanship, international growth and just pure fun. It’s a really special place. We’re proud to be able to bring MLB there, and help make some lifelong memories in the process.”. Creating lifelong memories is something he should know. O’Gara and his colleagues at MLB focus on that every time another event comes along. “People have heard me say this every time we start a major event. There will be fans who come to a World Series game or an All-Star event that will never experience that again. Years from now, they’ll be sitting on the porch talking about tonight. This is one of the key memories they will carry with them throughout their life. So we need to make sure we work hard to get every last detail right.”. And through it all, O’Gara has stayed true to his roots. He’s worked in New York for 28 years, but when he meets someone and they ask where he’s from, he still instantly says Maine.. “When you look at a tree you don’t see the roots that support it, but they’re an essential part of that growth. I know this sounds so corny but that’s how I view my roots in Westbrook. With those Maine roots, and you throw in some development at Notre Dame and the incredible support of my family, that’s my foundation.”. O’Gara and his wife Kate have three children in college: Sean, Megan and Molly. “To me, the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame recognition is a family award. You don’t have this kind of career without family involvement and support. My family has been part of this throughout. Growing up my kids have spent a lot of time at ballparks.”. One of the MLB traditions that O’Gara helps direct each year for the last decade is when MLB stops an All-Star Game or World Series game to have the fans stand in unison in the fight against cancer. And when O’Gara faced a grueling battle with stage 3 cancer two years ago, the Baseball community stood up for him. “My coworkers were so supportive, as was our MLB leadership and people from all 30 Clubs.”. During one of the toughest times in the treatment process, he received a recorded video from David Ortiz encouraging him to stay strong. “That was so thoughtful of Big Papi and the Red Sox,” O’Gara recollects. “That kind of support was great medicine during some dark days.” From Notre Dame Athletics “I’m in the control booth at Petco Park and Rachel Platten is performing ‘Fight Song’ right in front of home plate,” he says. “Fox television is broadcasting this live, so we want to get this right.” As O’Gara focused on the sound quality and other details that the home viewer would never notice unless an error was committed, someone tapped him on the shoulder. O’Gara turned and the person pointed to the outfield, where the giant video screen was playing Fox’s feed. There stood Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, holding two signs. One of them read, “I Stand Up For Brian O’Gara.” “I definitely felt a lot of eyeballs on me at that moment,” O’Gara says. In September doctors told O’Gara that all traces of his cancer had vanished. He will need to go in for cancer screenings regularly, but last autumn he was thrilled to be back to work and cancer-free. “I have never seen anything like what I witnessed at Wrigley Field on the Friday afternoon (before Game 3 of the World Series, in Chicago),” he said days after the Cubs had clinched the championship. “Five hours before the game, and there had to be 15,000 people just hanging around the streets surrounding the ballpark. They were taking pictures, soaking in the atmosphere, just so happy to be finally able to touch and feel and experience the World Series.” It was a joyous celebration that O’Gara himself understood and appreciated. He had always cherished such moments, but now even more deeply. “Everyone will get back to their daily lives soon enough,” he says, “but right now Cloud 9 is pretty crowded.” MLB executive still feels pride for Westbrook, his hometown.

  • Linscott, Fernald 2022

    Lynne Haynes and Tom Linscott

  • Flaherty, Ryan (2021) Padres Hire Ryan Flaherty As Quality Control Coach

bottom of page