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  • Gowell, Larry (1985)

    Gowell, an Auburn native, was 16-0 in his schoolboy career at Edward Little. He pitched two no-hitters in his senior year. and broke the school record with 14 home runes in three seasons Gowell signed with the New York Yankees as a fourth. round pick in 1967. In eight years with the Yankees. he played with every team in the organization. In 1969. Gowell posted a 16-9. record with a 1.74 ERA for New York’s Single A affiliate in Fort Lauderdale. Fla. He was named the outstanding right-handed pitcher in all of Class A baseball. Gowell pitched two games for the Yankees. In September of 1972, he pitched two innings of no-hit, no-run relief against Milwaukee. On October 3rd Gowell got a chance to start against the Brewers in Yankee Stadium. He pitched five innings, allowing three hits and striking out seven. Gowell also made his mark at the plate, ripping a double off Jim Lonborg. The hit was reported to be the last by a pitcher before the advent of the designated hitter rule in 1973. Gowell credits his father, HS coach Art Belliveau and minor-league pitching coach Cloyd Boyer as the biggest influences on his baseball! career. Gowell, 37, is currently working as a financial planner in Lewiston. From Wikipedia Lawrence Clyde Gowell (born May 2, 1948) is an American former professional baseball player. He was a right-handed pitcher who played in two games for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball in 1972. Gowell was drafted by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 1967 Major League Baseball draft on June 6, 1967. After winning every game at Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine, he was signed by the Yankees to a professional contract. He pitched in the minor leagues for six years before making his major league debut, after winning 11 games in a row in Double-A. Gowell was listed at 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and 182 pounds (83 kg). Major league career The Yankees called up Gowell from their minor league organization in 1972 to play as a September call-up. Gowell made his major league debut on September 21 against the Milwaukee Brewers. The game was held at County Stadium, with 4,185 people attending the game. Gowell was called to replace Rusty Torres pitching and batting ninth in the bottom of the sixth inning. He pitched two innings with one strikeout. Felipe Alou was then called to pinch hit for Gowell in the top of the eighth inning. The Yankees lost the game 6-4. On October 4, as a starting pitcher (again facing Milwaukee) Gowell hit a double on a 3–2 count, hitting a fastball by pitcher Jim Lonborg for his first and only Major League hit and the last hit by a pitcher in a regular season American League game before the start of the designated hitter rule. The baseball that Gowell hit now resides in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cooperstown, New York. Although Gowell allowed only one run during that game, the Yankees lost 1–0. It was Gowell's only MLB decision. From Monument Monday, Fritz Peterson "Larry was in contention for a major league roster spot in 1973. He was cut at the end of spring training, losing out to Casey Cox and Doc Medich. He didn’t make the team again in 1974; the new manager, Bill Virdon, seemed to judge him based on one bad tenth inning in an exhibition game against the Texas Rangers. A lot of the hype that spring was about Mike Pazik, a cocky southpaw from Holy Cross who wound up getting traded to the Twins for Dick Woodson. But Larry Gowell’s time as a MLB pitcher was indeed memorable and historic. I am glad to have known him." From Baseball Reference From Minor League Ball Larry Gowell: Last American League pitcher to earn a hit before the DH. In 1972, Yankees rookie Larry Gowell was the last American League pitcher to get a regular season hit before the advent of the DH. Clinton Riddle interviews him; The city of Auburn is about 30,000 people. We call our area L/A area. That stands for the L/A of the northeast, since Lewiston is across the river. They have about 25,000 in Lewiston. It was a mill town in those early years, shoe factories. A lot of blue-collar labor was needed to keep things going. A very friendly town and people, and they would really get behind you. Great sports and arts area. A lot of sports and music. My whole family played music; my brother was a songwriter, singer and guitar player and I was a trumpet and organ player and sang in the choir. I've been a professional singer for more than nine years now. I was going to a Seventh day Adventist private school where I sang in the choir and played in the band. They had no sports programs of which to speak. I was told by people that I had to go to public high school to been seen. So, I switched to Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine. It had a very good baseball team and its history was great. We had the late Artie Belivieu, who was a Bates College graduate. He was a very good coach that happened to be a huge Yankees fan. So, in my first year I did not pitch that much as I was a new young buck on the team. I went 3-0. I was wild that first year. I threw very hard but walked a few too many. I still won all my games. After having a great Legion baseball year I was a front-runner, pitching my team to a 6-0 season, breaking some strikeout records and pitching some close no-hitters. During the summer of my junior year was when I made my mark as a major prospect. Our New Auburn Legion team, under Jim Bouchles, went for the Maine State Championship in Augusta. Since I did not pitch on Friday night and Saturday, I started the first game on Friday and pitched a 1 hit shutout. With one day rest on Saturday, I pitched on Sunday and pitched a no-hitter. That was 18 innings, with one hit, against the best in Maine. We had nine scouts at the game, and on that day I was on the radar of many teams. So, now comes my senior year with scouts showing up like Frank Malzone for the Red Sox, the Cubs and Phillies scouts, and on and on. In my last season I was 7-0 with several one-hitters. I also was a great hitter in high school and hit .390 or so over my three years. I had the home run record (14) over three years until the metal bats came out and they broke it. Now, one of the later games of the year my coach got the big scouts from the Yankees in to see me pitch against our rival, Lewiston High. Pat Cogan showed up to see me pitch for the first time just before the draft. In that game, I was throwing bullets. I knew he was sitting right behind the cage. I struck out 19 out of 19 hitters, then several tried to bunt on me and got some bunts down but we got them out. I ended up with 22 strikeouts, 3 walks and my first no-hitter in high school. It was the best I had ever thrown and the scout was all smiles, talking with me and my father. At that point my value went way up. I was not going to be a fourth round pick before that game. The Cubs were the other team most interested in me, along with many others. Since my coach was a huge Yankees fan and he got the big scouts to come to what was the very best game of my life, I ended up picked 61st out of the whole nation. I was told many years later by some scouts that the 1967 draft was the most talented group of players in the history of baseball. So, my competition way very high. Yes, I was undefeated and had the home run record for the school in 1967. The Yankees signed you in '67, send you to Oneonta. What was it like adjusting to your first year in pro ball? Are there any experiences that stand out from that season? My father was a tough negotiator. We worked the Yankees hard to get a $20,000 bonus and he got my brother signed with me to watch over me my first year. My brother's name is Richard. He was on the bench, but did get up a few times and then they released him. Yeah, we had the fiery Frank Verdi, a little like Billy Martin. A great guy. I went 3-0 my first year. I was in awe of the players. Many of them from major universities like Florida State, Arizona State, Clemson and so on. You say to yourself, “I have to be better than these big college players to get noticed?” It is overwhelming when you talk to a pitcher from Florida State who went 10 and 2 for Division I! I just came from a small school in Maine. Anyhow, I did have a lot of pride in myself and I was told by Verdi that they all put their pants on the same way. “You are here because you have great talent, or we would not have taken you in the 4th round,” he told me. “We have faith in your abilities, so just go out and do your best.” Well, I did, with a 3-0 season after coming to the team in late-middle July because of a late signing. The town of Oneonta is a great town, and the people really took you in like family. The one experience I had was on one night when I was throwing really hard. My brother was in the dugout looking in, and I threw a pitch and several people said they never saw it come out of my hand. They just heard it hit the mitt. From Wordpress site . Local Talent: The “Golden” Baritone – Larry Gowell RIP to Larry Gowell, a pitcher who appeared in two major-league games. Despite the short career, he had one noteworthy accomplishment that makes him a unique part of baseball history. He died on May 11 at the age of 72 while playing golf, according to the posts his family and friends have left on Facebook. Gowell played for the 1972 New York Yankees. His son Chad Holland posted the following message on Gowell’s Facebook page: “It is with complete and utter sadness that I have to share this but we lost a true spirit this morning doing what he loved to do out playing golf. So many loved and adored him. He always enjoyed his visits to see his grandkids and to see his grandson play baseball. He never met a stranger and was honestly the most positive person I had ever been around.

  • Bordick, Mike (2005)

     So, what is the best story of the Mike Bordick professional baseball career that spanned July 1986 thru 2003? Is it: A) scrawny 5' 10” and 169 Ib (soaking wet) kid from Hampden Academy goes up the street to state university, plays two College World Series at UMO before getting his big break in 1986 and making the most of it for an 18 year pro career? Maybe; or B) UMaine shortstop makes it to the Major Leagues, played almost immediately in the 1990 Major League baseball World Series for Oakland (versus Cincinnati Reds), and for a manager, Tony LaRussa, who has called him “my favorite player, ever’? Not a bad resume entry; or C) steady, unspectacular shortstop from West Coast team signs three year deal with Baltimore Orioles in December 1996 and is merely asked to be the player to replace the Iron Man and Living Legend, Cal Ripken, he of Gehrig record-breaking fame, lap-around-the-field fan adoration, and, according to some, savior of post-strike Major League Baseball, a task he performs with record-breaking relish, by the way? A good day at the office, most of us would say; or D) ‘The Rhinoceros Story? Let’s try (D), shall we? “It was the summer alter my first year at Orono,” Bordick recalls. “I was living in Portland for the summer and playing in the Twilight League and had a job at the Portland Housing Authority, cleaning out apartments, doing maintenance, and stuff like that. “My boss kept calling me “Rhino. “Hey, Rhino, go clean out this unit for me.... Good Job, Rhino.... Hey, Rhino, I need some help moving this stuff over here, okay”... Thanks, Rhino.” “Finally, I said, “What's with this name Rhino?” “He said, “Do you know much about rhinos? They are strong, clean, self-reliant. They protect themselves. They battle through a lot. They are dedicated to what they are doing. ‘They persevere.” “ I said, OK.” “He said, Well, you're a baseball player, right? You want to make it to the big leagues, right? And you tell me you’re going to do that? I think you will. You’re the Rhino.” Bordick took that story, adopted the nickname quietly as his own, and had some fun with it the next 20 years with family members. “My brother gets me rhino stuff all the time whenever he travels--statues, knick knacks, pictures. It’s sort of taken off. It’s something that has helped keep me going. I like the story of the rhino.” Bordick has a long list of people he always cites as important to his development as a ballplayer. There's his father, a well known umpire in central Maine; his college coach John Winkin, who he says “gave me my first big break;” former MLB scout and current MLB GM J.P. Ricardi who recognized a regular looking kid summer of 1986 in the Cape Cod League and took a chance on signing him; LaRussa, who lights up when someone asks him about Mike Bordick; and many others--family, friends, college classmates, college teammates, a virtual Manhattan phone book of names from a guy who remembers where he started. Do we buy it, though? Not John Winkin. “You have to realize what Mike Bordick accomplished in his life, and in his career,’ Winkin says, his voice stopped to emphasize the drama of the moment. “Actually, you can’t. It is tough to appreciate what this young man did, and has done. from Hampden, Maine, to Maine, where we gave him a chance, and he produced, to getting signed, to getting a shot, and then doing what he has done for more than 10 years (later, to be close to 20 years). it’s just staggering. You do that because it is your goal to do it. You accomplish that goal because you are driven to accomplish it. Many of us were happy to be part of Mike’s journey” The Bordick resume is impressive--even if the solid stats will have a tough time competing, years from now, with the rags-to-riches story of the kid from Hampden who Made it to The Big Time because he was tough like the homely Jungle warrior, the rhinoceros. Freshman year at Orono, 1984, played 32 games on the way to Omaha, hit .201, and, defensively, had 131 assists from shortstop, and 56 putouts, with 20 errors; Junior year, 1986, another trip to the CWS, playing in 63 games for the Black Bears, hitting .364, with defensive stats that included 192 assists, 97 putouts, and 25 times E-6 (source: Black Bears Baseball by Augie Favazza and Alan Lessells, former Portland Press Herald reporters). Then Oakland scout Riccardi signed Bordick as a free agent on the playing fields of Cape Cod 1n July 1986: Played for Oakland in 1990 MLB World Series, getting back up time to regular SS Walt Weiss; Solid seven year career with Oakland; Signed with Baltimore December I996. Look over shortstop role from Cal Ripken, who had the set the Major League Baseball record for consecutive games played, and busted the Lou Gehrig record amid much nationwide media fanfare. Bordick was key member of Orioles team that appeared in postseason playoffs in 1997 and 1998; Set American League record of 345 consecutive errorless chances at shortstop; Had three strong power hitting years for the Orioles, with 15 home runs 1n 1998; !0 in 1999; and 16 in 2000. (Source: Topps Publishing Company, the manufacturer of many Mike Bordick baseball cards 1990 thru 2003); Traded to the New York Mets near the July 31, 2000 trading deadline; played shortstop for the Mets in the 2000 World Series against the Yankees in the “Subway Series;” a hand injury limited his effectiveness 1n that series; Some multi-year contracts, each worth $9 million or more, left the much-respected Michael Todd Bordick with some impressive life savings to support his family of wife, Monica, and five children. A good chunk of those funds come back to the state of Maine, where the Bordick clan makes regular visits to relatives in central Maine, and to a vacation retreat in Rangeley. At the end of 2002 season, his career stats showed an impressive .259 MLB batting average, and steady 1,618 games played; Mike, aka Rhino, played a final year with the Toronto Blue Jays as a jack-of-all-trades to an appreciative group of Jays management officials who had Maine ties--including former Sea Dog Manager Carlos Losca; Director of Player Development Dick Scott of and Base Coach Brian Butterfield (UMO ‘76 and son of the late Jack Butterfield); “unlike so many other pro athletes, Bordick wanted to go out on a high note, and turned down some offers for one year contracts for the 2004 year, retiring rather than playing part-time in an admittedly flattering player-coach type role tor younger players. Bordick agreed to a spring training contract with the Blue Jays in 2005 to work with younger players in Florida, according to veteran Maine umpire Kevin Joyce, whose brother Ken is a minor league manager and in touch with many Maine-native players. Current Oriole GM Jim Beattie, a South Portland native, and member of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, says Bordick is part of a close baseball fraternity. “I think those of us who are from Maine do keep our eyes on other guys from Maine,’ Beattie said in a Fort Lauderdale spring training interview. “Mike has done so well. We are all very proud of him. What a great career, and what a great honor for him.” Oriole media director Bill Stetka says Bordick left nothing but friends with the Oriole organization. “What a terrific guy, what a great player Mike was, and is, here,” Stetka said. “He was just really well thought of by everybody here--players, coaches, staff. He obviously performed very, very well on the field, but he also was just a class act in how he treated staff, and people in everyday jobs. He did the state of Maine well here.”

  • Eshbach, Charlie (1995)

    It has not taken long for Charles Eshbach Ill to make himself and the Portland Sea Dogs valuable members of the southern Maine community. Eshbach, president and general manager of the Sea Dogs, is the chief architect behind the popularity, success and respect established by the Double-A franchise in less than two seasons. The Sea Dogs surpassed nearly every expectation in their inaugural season of 1994 by selling out 49 of 69 home dates, including 40 of their final 41. They shattered the previous single-season attendance record for the Eastern League despite finishing 21 games below .500. interest only seems to be growing this season. Many teams throughout professional baseball now strive to emulate Portland’s approach — featuring commitment to family, friendliness and community. Those values are what made team owner Daniel Burke believe Eshbach was the perfect choice to oversee his operation. Burke wanted an experienced baseball man whose skills and style would be embraced by Mainers. He discovered exactly that in Eshbach. Eshbach, 43, previously served as Eastern League president for more than 11 years before accepting the many challenges of beginning Portland's new franchise in January of 1993. The Weymouth, Mass., native cited those challenges, a reduced traveling schedule and Maine's quality of life among the advantages for him, his wife Ann-Marie and their two young sons Brian and scott. Eshbach had steadily climbed the baseball ladder since landing a Class A assistant general manager's job in 1974, right out of the University of Connecticut where he earned a marketing degree. He became the Eastern League's president when it was nearly in shambles, but helped a resurgence that included four consecutive attendance records. He gained respect, a reputation for honesty and fairness, and increased stature along the way. Eshbach's hiring, along with Burke's ownership, provided Portland with instant credibility in the eyes of professional! baseball. Eshbach has since demonstrated why. He selected a youth oriented team name and logo that currently sells more than any other In minor league baseball. A seal-costumed mascot, reasonable prices and attractive Hadlock Field add to the popularity. So Eshbach has masterfully blended the Sea Dogs with their community, including his considerable commitment to raise funds and awareness for local charities. Eshbach somehow makes nearly every fan feel an important part of the team. For video of the ceremony . From Portland Sea Dogs "Charlie was employee #1 at the Portland Sea Dogs and the best hire my father could have made," said team chairman Bill Burke. "He has led this franchise with vision and high integrity and his hard work and good humor have been invaluable to all of us." Sally McNamara added, "Charlie's fingerprints are all over this franchise and none of our success would have been possible without him. While we will miss his day-to-day presence in the front office, we are pleased to have access to him as a senior advisor." Under Eshbach's leadership the Sea Dogs have been one of the Eastern League's model franchises. In the teams' inaugural season in 1994, the Sea Dogs led the league in attendance attracting over 375,000 fans. The Sea Dogs consistently rank among the league's attendance leaders. The Sea Dogs were awarded the 1999 Freitas Award, which is presented by Baseball America to honor the best operators in Minor League Baseball. In 2000, the Sea Dogs won the John H. Johnson President's Trophy, which is Minor League Baseball's top honor presented to the complete baseball franchise based upon franchise stability, contributions to the league, contributions to baseball in the community and promotion of the baseball industry. Following the 2013 season, Eshbach was awarded the distinguished "King of Baseball" award for his accomplishments in the game. Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski added, "I've been with Charlie Eshbach since day one with the Portland Sea Dogs when I was with the Florida Marlins. If there's one person that stands out as 'Mr. Sea Dog,' it's Charlie. I congratulate him on a great career and thank him for everything he has done for our organization, and baseball in general." Prior to joining the Sea Dogs Eshbach served 11 years as Eastern League President and was presented the inaugural Warren Giles Award for outstanding service as a league president in 1984. During his time as league president, Eshbach served a three-year term on the Executive Committee of Minor League Baseball and served as interim President of Minor League Baseball in 1988. Eshbach began his career in Minor League Baseball in 1974 with the Elmira Pioneers (NY-Penn League). In 1975 he joined the Bristol Red Sox, Boston's Double-A team in the Eastern League. Having served in the Eastern League since 1975, Eshbach is the longest serving active member of the league. Eshbach also served as General Manager of the Reading Phillies in 1978. From Portland Press Herald In memoriam: Charlie Eshbach Ballpark Digest Editors Founding President and General Manager of the Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A; Eastern League) Charlie Eshbach passed away this week following a lengthy illness. He was 70. Eshbach was the first employee of the Sea Dogs, hired by team Founder Dan Burke to lead his franchise and the return of professional baseball to the city of Portland for the first time since 1949. Eshbach was the primary visionary of the Sea Dogs brand and the builder of the franchise. He served as the team’s President & General Manager through the 2010 season and remained as the team’s President through the end of the 2018 season when he stepped down from the team leadership position after 25 years. He remained with the club as a Senior Advisor. “Charlie Eshbach was the heart and the brains behind the Portland Sea Dogs, advising our father Dan Burke as he worked to bring the team to Portland,” said Bill Burke and Sally McNamara via press statement. “His wise counsel and good humor will be dearly missed by all who counted on him for advice and support. We are deeply saddened by his passing and our hearts go out to Ann-Marie and his entire family.” A baseball lifer, Eshbach had a 45-year career in Minor League Baseball. Prior to joining the Sea Dogs, he served for 11 years as Eastern League President and was presented the inaugural Warren Giles Award for outstanding service as a league president in 1984. During his time as league president, Eshbach served a three-year term on the Executive Committee of Minor League Baseball and served as interim President of Minor League Baseball in 1988. He began his career in Minor League Baseball in 1974 with the Elmira Pioneers (Short Season A; NY-Penn League). In 1975 he joined the Bristol Red Sox (Double-A; Eastern League. Eshbach also served as General Manager of the Reading Phillies in 1978. Under Eshbach’s leadership the Sea Dogs have been one of the Eastern League’s model franchises. In the team’s inaugural season in 1994, the Sea Dogs led the league in attendance, attracting over 375,000 fans. The Sea Dogs consistently rank among the league’s attendance leaders. The Sea Dogs were awarded the 1999 Freitas Award, honoring the best operators in Minor League Baseball. In 2000, the Sea Dogs won the John H. Johnson President’s Trophy, which is Minor League Baseball’s top honor presented to the complete baseball franchise based upon franchise stability, contributions to the league, contributions to baseball in the community and promotion of the baseball industry. In 1995, Eshbach co-founded the Strike Out Cancer in Kids program, which has raised over $5,000,000 for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program. For his efforts Eshbach was honored as the Eastern League Executive of the Year in 1994 and 2002. In 2013, he was named the “King of Baseball,” where Minor League Baseball salutes a veteran from the professional baseball world for long-time dedication and service. It is the highest individual honor in Minor League Baseball. In 2018 Eshbach was inducted into the Portland Sea Dogs Hall of Fame. Charlie Eshbach, founding president of the Sea Dogs, dies at 70 As the team's longtime president and general manager, he helped establish the Sea Dogs as one of minor league baseball's model franchises. Charlie Eshbach, who helped establish the Portland Sea Dogs as one of minor league baseball’s model franchises, died Tuesday morning following a lengthy illness. He was 70 and had been hospitalized since May, team officials said. Eshbach was the Sea Dogs’ first employee and served as team president for 25 years. In 2013, he was named “King of Baseball,” minor league baseball’s highest honor, for his work in building family-friendly entertainment at Hadlock Field. His impact on the community went even deeper as co-founder of the Strike Out Cancer In Kids program that has raised more than $5 million since launching in 1995. Eshbach was hired by then team owner Dan Burke in October 1992, stepping down as Eastern League president to oversee building a club that would begin play in 1994 as a Double-A affiliate of the expansion Florida Marlins. Burke and Eshbach both were lifelong Red Sox fans, and the Sea Dogs switched affiliations from Florida to Boston following the 2002 season. The Red Sox connection led Eshbach to tweak Hadlock Field to more closely resemble Fenway Park, with changes as obvious as a 37-foot left-field wall dubbed “The Maine Monster” and as subtle as the Morse code initials on either side of the scoreboard honoring Burke (DBB) and his wife, Bunny (HSB). “He and my dad made this perfect match,” said Bill Burke, who along with his sister Sally McNamara assumed ownership of the club following their father’s death in 2011. “Running a minor league team is a lot of work and he made it look easy.” Burke and McNamara called Eshbach “the heart and brains” behind the Sea Dogs, named in 1999 by “Baseball America” magazine as the best operation in minor league baseball. Eshbach also served as Portland’s general manager through the 2010 season, and remained with the club as a senior adviser after stepping down as team president in September 2018. MINOR LEAGUE EXEC AT 22 He grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, earned a degree from the University of Connecticut and became general manager of the Bristol (Connecticut) Red Sox at age 22. He was 29 when elected president of the Eastern League and served in that capacity for 11 years, until Dan Burke convinced him to join the expansion franchise in Portland. “I just felt Charlie was the perfect person for a community like Portland,” Dan Burke told the Press Herald in 1994. “Charlie’s a marathoner, not a dash man.” It was in Bristol that Eshbach met Guy Gilchrist, an artist and illustrator who drew a comic strip based on Jim Henson’s Muppets and was a regular at Muzzy Field. “We were both big Red Sox fans,” Gilchrist, 65, said Tuesday from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. “Charlie really learned the whole business from the ground up. You were not only the general manager, but you were serving hot dogs.” At the time Eshbach moved to Maine, there were only two notable mascots in minor league baseball, Gilchrist said, the Durham Bull in North Carolina and the Toledo Mud Hen in Ohio. Dan Burke was against the idea of a mascot, his son said, but Eshbach prevailed, and sent Gilchrist some of the suggested team names, including Puffins and Wharf Rats along with Sea Dogs. While on the phone with Eshbach, Gilchrist sketched a young seal wearing a ball cap with a P and chomping on a bat. The Sea Dogs logo was born, and mascot Slugger became the lovable face of the franchise. The team continues to rank among the top 25 franchises in minor league baseball in annual merchandising sales. “He was more business-oriented with his background and I was more of an arts background, but we both loved all the same stuff,” Gilchrist said. “Charlie had an imagination, and he had the business acumen to put imagination into motion.” ‘HE INSTILLED IN US A PRIDE’ Promotions are a staple of minor-league life, but Eshbach nurtured a family-friendly atmosphere and never allowed between-innings entertainment to encroach upon the game itself. In 1997 he pioneered the Field of Dreams-inspired entrance of flannel-uniformed players and coaches through a makeshift cornfield in center field. The Sea Dogs never embraced promotions such as dizzy bat races where fans are made to look foolish. The idea is “to treat everyone with respect and have a good time,” said Jim Heffley, the Sea Dogs business manager who joined the club as a 23-year-old in 1994. “I’ve never met anyone so dedicated to the integrity of the game. He always reminded us that they’ve got a job to do and we can’t get in their way.” Heffley is among the longtime Sea Dogs employees who spoke of Eshbach’s integrity and loyalty. He regularly stood at the front gate before games, welcoming fans and listening to any concerns. He was never Mr. Eshbach, always Charlie. “He instilled in us a pride,” Heffley said. “He mentored and guided us on how to do things correctly. We learned early on: Don’t do anything that will embarrass the club.” Susan Doliner has been with Maine Medical Center’s philanthropy department since 1990. She and Eshbach helped develop the wildly successful Strike Out Cancer In Kids program. She said Eshbach and the Burke family wanted to create more than a local ball club. “They wanted a link to the community and to give back,” she said. A golf tournament called the Slugger Open also raises money for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. “Charlie made sure the players would come up and meet the children,” Doliner said of the patients in the pediatric unit, which overlooks the ballpark. “The ballplayers knew what it was like to have a child look up to them. And often a player would come up on his own.” Doliner said she would often travel outside of Maine to tout the success of the Strike Out Cancer partnership. She described Eshbach as quiet and wise but with a great sense of humor. “I also got to be around him when he was around his professional colleagues and boy, did they respect him,” she said. “He wasn’t just respected around Portland but around the country.” ‘CHARLIE WAS THE GOLD STANDARD’ Jon Jennings was exploring where in New England to put an expansion minor league basketball team in 2007. Intrigued by the success of the Sea Dogs, he approached Eshbach, who pitched the idea of Portland. The Red Claws, now called the Maine Celtics, played their first game in November 2009. Jennings was the team’s president and general manager for the first three seasons before becoming Portland’s city manager, a position he currently holds in Clearwater, Florida. “Charlie was the gold standard that I based all of the decisions around when we were creating the Red Claws,” Jennings said. “I met with him on several occasions to get his thoughts. He was integral to the success that we actually had with the Red Claws in the beginning.” Eshbach stressed that a minor league team had to be a part of the community, beyond the game-day event, Jennings said. “That was frankly the hallmark of what Charlie taught me,” Jennings said. “We wanted to be a vital part of the community and wanted to make a difference, and many of the things we did, from the promotions to the fundraising events that we did as a team, grew out of those initial conversations with Charlie.” Carlos Tosca, manager of the Sea Dogs in their first three seasons, choked up upon hearing the news of Eshbach’s death Tuesday afternoon. “His character and his honesty – I don’t want to say they were rare in the minor leagues – but he was certainly a cut above,” he said by phone from Florida. “He had such an easygoing way, but at the same time, you knew there was fire and intensity in there.” Tosca was silent for a moment. “He did things right,” he said of Eshbach. “I loved the man. He took very good care of me and he always made sure the players were taken care of.” Eshbach and the Sea Dogs earned several honors during his tenure. In 2000, Minor League Baseball awarded the Sea Dogs with the John H. Johnson President’s Trophy, presented to the baseball franchise for its stability and contributions to the league, its community and the baseball industry overall. Eshbach was named the Eastern League Executive of the Year in 1978 (while with Bristol), 1994 and 2002. Tosca said Eshbach’s two decades of baseball experience before the Sea Dogs meant that “nothing really ruffled his feathers, nothing ever caught him by surprise,” the former manager said. “They don’t make ’em like that anymore.” Staff Writer Steve Craig contributed to this report.

  • Bissonette, Del (1969) Del Bissonette of Winthrop was Brooklyn first baseman from 1928 to 1933 with a lifetime batting average of .305, and holds the Sunday Telegram League all time batting record of .600 . Bissonette, a one-time terrifier of batters and later terrorizer of moundsmen. Del the superb southpaw pitcher who s a schoolboy set down on strikes such sluggers as Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby, the Winthrop walloper, who wouldn’t be denied major league entry even when his pitching arm went dead while at Georgetown University. BISSONETTE, whose .600 telegram League batting average hasn’t been approached, batted his way to the Brooklyn Dodgers where he set a National League homer record his rookie year, and exited six years later with a .305 lifetime average. Even more the measure of a man was his response in 1947 to old friend Haley’s need for a manager for Haley’s Portland Pilots. This move by a diamond giant saved for a season or two the local franchise. Del also managed the Boston Braves in 1946. "The man who would have been the Babe Ruth of Maine: that’s the label generally bestowed upon Del Bissonette." Read more here at "I am guessing that Bissonette is wearing a Portland Pilots uniform. that was the team that he managed in his home state of Maine in the late 1940's. before that, however, he was a ballplayer touted as a Babe Ruth type talent, largely because he was both a left-handed pitcher and a skilled batter. he hurt his arm at some point before signing with Brooklyn, and so focused solely on hitting. as a rookie for the Robins in 1928, Bissonette played in a league-leading 155 games, and hit .320 with 25 home runs and 106 rbi. He was the Robins' first baseman for the next three seasons as well, and after his first four years in the majors, Bissonette owned a .308 career batting average with a .376 on-base percentage and a ops of .870. not Ruthian, but not bad, either. unfortunately, Bissonette severed his achilles tendon in a spring training volleyball mishap in 1932, and he missed the entire season. he was back in 1933, but underperformed and was traded away. He failed in his attempts to return to the majors, and eventually went into managing - both at the minor and major league level."

  • Sukeforth, Clyde (1969)

    Sukeforth was a late stage Dodger teammate of Bissonette who had previously toiled from 1926-1931 as Cincinnati cather. Clyde was acknowledged by baseball men to pack the maximum in game savvy. Sukeforth passed up several Brooklyn managerial opportunities for an early hunting fishing jump around his Waldoboro home. A .264 BA for a receiver who quarterbacked his teams puts him far above the banjo hitters. Vern Putney 1/7/1969 PPH From National Baseball Hall of Fame Clyde Leroy Sukeforth was born on Nov. 30, 1901 to Pearle and Sarah Sukeforth. He grew up on a farm, and attended a one-room schoolhouse throughout high school. He and his sister, Hazel, would walk to school every morning – three and a half miles, each way – until Clyde transferred to the Colburn Classical Institute in 1916. Although Washington was hundreds of miles away from the closest big league ballpark, baseball was an integral part of Sukeforth’s childhood. “As a kid, we played baseball seven days a week, practice or games. In those days, football wasn’t too attractive, basketball didn’t mean much unless you were 7-feet-tall,” he told the Sport Collectors Digest. “When I was a kid I remember standing by the stagecoach, waiting for it to come through with the morning edition of the Boston Post, and the first thing I did was I opened it up to read about the Red Sox.” His love of the game – and prowess behind the plate – only grew stronger as the years passed, and eventually earned him a spot at Georgetown University. “After World War I, baseball was at its peak,” Sukeforth told the Hall of Fame in 1995. “All the industries supported ballclubs getting high school and college players and semi-pros. I was playing for the Great Northern Paper Company. The team was mostly Georgetown players. They had a catcher who had signed with the New York Giants and they asked me to play catcher.” After two years in Washington, “Sukey” signed with the Cincinnati Reds, for $600 and a $1500 bonus. Making only one plate appearance in 1926 – a strikeout – he was sent back down to Double-A for the rest of the season. But the rookie learned quickly, and by 1929 was the Reds’ starting catcher. Unfortunately for Sukeforth, a tragic shot-gun accident in 1931 would impair his eyesight, prompting a trade in 1932 that would ship future Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi to Cincinnati and Sukeforth to the Dodgers. Though he’d only play three seasons for Brooklyn – aside from an astounding 18-game stint at catcher at the age of 43 in 1945, during the player shortages of World War II – the trade marked the beginning of a partnership between Sukeforth and future Hall of Famer Branch Rickey that would shape the course of baseball history in more ways than one. Sukey would then embark on a seven-year managerial career in the minor leagues, taking over the Dodgers’ Double-A-farm team in Montreal in 1939. His teams never had a losing season, and won better than 55 percent of their games. On March 1, 1943, Rickey brought him back to Brooklyn as a coach, and a couple of years later, as a scout. He came with “a box of about five dozen smelt which he had caught through the ice along the coast near his home,” Rickey said to The New York Times. “That’s why he got the job.” From Wikipedia Born: November 30, 1901 Washington, Maine Died: September 3, 2000 (aged 98) Waldoboro, Maine Sukeforth soon retired permanently from the playing ranks and resumed his former job as a Brooklyn coach and occasional special-assignment scout. In that capacity, later that season, he would make history. Dodger president Branch Rickey was making secret plans to break organized baseball's six-decades-long "gentleman's agreement" that enforced racial segregation. In August, Rickey sent Sukeforth to Chicago, where Robinson's team, the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues, was slated to play the Chicago American Giants. Rickey told Sukeforth to urge Robinson to come back with him to Brooklyn for a meeting with Rickey and the Dodgers. Sukeforth met Robinson again in Toledo, Ohio, and the two men traveled by railway to Brooklyn for the historic meeting at the Dodgers' Montague Street offices on August 28. He was the only other person in the room when Rickey told Robinson of his plans to sign him to a contract to play in Montreal in 1946. After scouting many players from the Negro Leagues, Branch Rickey met with Jackie Robinson at the Brooklyn Dodgers office in August, 1945. Clyde Sukeforth, the Dodgers scout, had told Robinson that Rickey was scouting for players because he was starting his own black team to be called the Brown Dodgers. At the meeting, Rickey revealed that he wanted Robinson to play for the major league Dodgers. Rickey then acted out scenes Robinson might face to see how Robinson would respond. Robinson kept his composure and agreed to a contract with Brooklyn's Triple-A minor league farm club, the Montreal Royals. Then, in 1947, Sukeforth—functioning in the unwanted role of interim manager of the Dodgers after the suspension of Leo Durocher—wrote Robinson's name into the Dodger lineup on Opening Day on April 15 against the Braves at Ebbets Field. In addition to serving on Durocher's coaching staff and his scouting assignments for Dodgers president Rickey, he worked behind the scenes in 1946 to help create the new Nashua Dodgers of the Class B New England League. Sukeforth helped the Nashua team forge ties with the New Hampshire community, easing the racial integration of the league when Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe were assigned to that club. Sukeforth remained in the Pirates organization as a scout and occasional minor league manager through 1965. He then worked as a scout for the Atlanta Braves. Sukeforth died at the age of ninety-eight at his home in Waldoboro, Maine. Rickey and Robinson’s Third Man He went to Pittsburgh in 1952 as a coach and scout where he was instrumental in the Pirates’ drafting Roberto Clemente in 1954. He stayed with Pittsburgh through 1957, then retired. He was brought back periodically through 1962 as both a scout and minor league manager, then moved to a scouting position with the Braves until he finally retired. He died at age 98 in 2000. According to Wikipedia a fresh baseball “can be found on his gravesite at all times.” I’ve always thought that Sukeforth never gets enough credit for his role in integrating baseball. I agree that the principles, Rickey and Robinson, deserve the most credit, but I think Sukeforth is significant in that he ultimately recommended Robinson, became a confidant to Robinson during the most troublesome period of the integration, and then served as mentor to other Dodgers black players, while also becoming a leading proponent of bringing in Latin players like Clemente. We all owe Clyde Sukeforth a debt. Hopefully this pays back a small part of it. Tough Call – also known as Game Called Because of Rain, Bottom of the Sixth, or The Three Umpires – is a 1948 painting by American artist Norman Rockwell, painted for the April 23, 1949, cover of The Saturday Evening Post magazine. The original painting is in the collection of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It is considered the best known of Rockwell's baseball-themed works The painting features five people, standing from left to right, who each posed for reference photographs;[17] base umpire Larry Goetz home plate umpire Beans Reardon, holding his outside chest protector base umpire Lou Jorda Brooklyn coach Clyde Sukeforth, holding his hat and largely obscured by the umpires Pittsburgh manager Billy Meyer THE SIMPLE BRILLIANCE OF CLYDE SUKEFORTH Baseball Hall of Fame Part of the GOING DEEP series Written by: Alex Coffey Ninety-three-year-old Clyde Sukeforth, donning a plaid blazer and a red baseball cap, slowly walked past an exhibit in Gibbs Library. A 2,500 square foot brick building, Gibbs serves as the focal point of its small but passionate community, bringing authors, performers and others of “local interest” to the coastal town of Washington, Maine. After 48 years in the big leagues, Sukeforth undoubtedly fell into the “local interest” category. As he gazed up at dozens of black-and-white photographs of himself adorning the walls, he incredulously posited a question: “Why are you bothering with a second-string catcher?” For anyone who knew Sukeforth, or has listened to his interviews, this reaction shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. The former backstop was self-effacing to his core, dodging compliments like they were wild pitches. But whether he thought he deserved an exhibit at Gibbs Library or not, one fact remains indisputable: Clyde Sukeforth was much more than a backup catcher. If you need further proof, just ask Jackie Robinson. In 1972, the year of his passing, the baseball pioneer wrote to the man who first scouted him: “Please understand that I do not have any reservations in praise for the role that Clyde Sukeforth played in the growth and development of my beginnings in baseball. I have been very appreciative of the fact that whenever there were problems in the earlier days, I could always go to you, talk with you, and receive the warm and friendly advise that I always did. “While there has not been enough said of your significant contribution in the Rickey-Robinson experiment, I consider your role, next to Mr. Rickey’s and my wife’s – yes, bigger than any other persons with whom I came in contact. I have always considered you to be one of the true giants in this initial endeavor in baseball, for which I am truly appreciative.” That letter is now preserved in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, along with Sukeforth’s response to it, years later, in a note to a friend: “I sincerely appreciate your thoughts about the Robinson letter, but I have no ambitions in that direction. The letter was written (the year of) his death, to thank me again for the part I played in the early days of integration when the going was rough. Actually, I did nothing that anyone in my position, free of prejudice, couldn’t or wouldn’t have done. No big deal.”

  • Brennan, Don (1969)

    Brennan crashed the majors as a New York Yankee pitcher in 1933. He was one of the first to be recognized as a top relief pitcher. He appeared in the World Series and in addition to innumerable game saves compiled a 21-12 record.

  • Turner, Charles (Charlie) (1996)

    CHARLES F. (CHARLIE) TURNER Big Charlie Turner will always be remembered as a very colorful semi-pro manager and an ardent supporter of countless youth programs. A legendary baseball figure for 50 years, Charlie was labeled by sportswriter, Dick Doyle, “one of the most successful baseball coaches or managers the state has seen.” Charlie got his introduction to the diamond as a good, versatile player at Yarmouth High, North Yarmouth Academy and semi-pro nines of the World War era. But it was his direction of summer programs of the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s that earned him a niche in the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame and the label, “Mr. Baseball.” in 1957, his Falmouth Lions won the State Pony League championship - a program for 13 & 14 year-olds that is now defunct in Maine. in the 1940s & ‘50s, Turner’s Yarmouth Townies relied almost exclusively on homegrown talent, but in the ‘60s, Charlie attracted many stellar performers from all points of Western Maine. So many stars that at least 20 of “Charlie’s guys” are already members of the Hall of Fame. The Yarmouth Townies won seven Portland Twilight League titles, including six straight from 1961 to 1966. This Yarmouth dynasty was finally ended by the rise of the Ametek team from South Portland. In 1957, 1963 & 1972, the Townies captured Maine Amateur championships. Also in 1963, Yarmouth won the Carl Willey Semi-Pro Invitational Tournament when star pitcher, Capt. Johnny Thoits, went the distance to defeat host Lamoine, 9-4. Charlie is fondly recalled by his former players. Dick Hill says, “He had a heart of gold and baseball was his love.” Pat Feury, for many years Charley's playing-captain, gave him a ringing endorsement for HoF induction. Charlie also devoted nearly 50 years to railroading, and for a number of years was a popular agent-operator at the Village Green Station of Yarmouth. Mr. Turner passed away in 1977.

  • King, Stephen (2000)

    He doesn't have Carlton Willey’s fastball, nor Jack Scott’s coaching won loss record, nor Billy Swift's Olympian baseball feats, but Durham native Stephen King is linked strongly in the minds of many to the game of baseball. King, age 52, made his most visible contribution to the game in 1992 when a baseball facility he underwrote began play in Bangor. The Shawn Trevor Mansfield Complex has hosted thousands of youth and adult baseball games this past decade. A man who takes his hobbies seriously, whether it 1s music or baseball, King saw to it that the 1,500-seat stadium was sodded with genuine bluegrass; real “baseball-field mix” infield dirt hauled in from New Jersey; and drainage tiles every 20 feet throughout the field (rainy weather in the spring can be the cause for shock and horror to Maine baseball coaches and umpires). King, an avid baseball fan and Boston Red Sox season ticket holder, added another baseball entry to his resume with the publication two years ago of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. The novel about a little girl who got lost in the woods and listened to a game featuring the pitching of the Red Sox reliever got Maine’s best known writer more national acclaim, and helped the game regain some of its polish and prominence lost when the pastime got sucker punched to the gut by the 1994 strike. King could have written about anything. He wrote about baseball. King graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970 as an English major. A fledgling career as a part-time student fiction writer blossomed after graduation with the publication of such books as Salem’s Lot, Carrie and The Shining. King, who lives in Bangor with his wife, Tabitha, also a novelist, has experienced phenomenal success with a string of best-selling books; movies; screenplays; and now internet-related products. Throughout the course of his life, however, has run baseball. In addition to his role as fan, author and benefactor was perhaps his most memorable stint as Best Supporting Actor — that of Little League Father. Played out on a Bangor stage in the mid to late 1980s, the featured performer in that production was Owen King, then a 12 year old first baseman for the Bangor Little League All Star team that went on to win the Maine State Championship. One of Owen’s teammates on that 1989 team was Matt Kinney, a hard-throwing right-hander who later starred for Bangor High before turning down John Winkin’s scholarship offer at UMaine to sign with the Red Sox. Kinney currently is throwing for the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Bangor Daily News columnist Ron Brown says King loves baseball as much as Dave Mansfield, whose son Shawn was honored posthumously by the building of the Mansfield Complex. “Few people get as close to Stephen King as David Mansfield, Brown wrote in a BDN column. “Few people know what makes him tick, and few people know the many causes and charities to which King and his wife, Tabitha, have given their money and time over the years.” “King and Mansfield job together. They go to games together. More important, when it comes to serving Bangor’s youth, they continually plot and scheme to improve present athletic conditions.” Brown has looked into his crystal ball to ask what would have become of Stephen King had his professional life not taken him to Hollywood, HBO, and the inside pages of Fortune magazine. Brown agrees with Martha McFarland Williams whose father (Packy) and brother (Bo) are in the Hall of Fame, Martha says if you want to understand Stephen King, a UMO classmate and friend, you have to understand he loves baseball. “if Stephen King had never achieved his literary fame, I have a hunch he would be another Dave Mansfield — a guy in his 40s, a bit of a paunch, constantly wearing a Cap, and sporting a seasonal beard, who simply loves kids and baseball,” Brown says. Mansfield has agreed to appear at the Hall of Fame induction banquet on behalf of Stephen King, who will be unable to attend due to prior commitments. How Stephen King’s love of baseball helped generations of young Bangor athletes . Bangor Daily News By Emily Burnham, BDN Staff • May 2, 2019 "“There was always a bit of a mystique around it being Stephen, sure, but once they got to know him, he was just another of the coaches,” said Mansfield, now 74, who is president of the board of directors for Mansfield Stadium. “I know it was a great experience for the kids, but I think it was just as important for him.” "Early in 2004, two writers and Red Sox fans, Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King, decided to chronicle the upcoming season, one of the most hotly anticipated in baseball history. They would sit together at Fenway. They would exchange emails. They would write about the games. And, as it happened, they would witness the greatest comeback ever in sports" “Baseball fiction is hard,” he wrote in the e-mail message. “There’s 25 guys on a major league squad!” BASEBALL In ‘Blockade Billy,’ King Drifts Back Into Baseball By RICHARD SANDOMIRJ Book Overview " Faithful isn't just about the Red Sox. It's also about family, friendship, and what it truly means to be a baseball fan and to be--well, faithful, come hell or high water" ( The Boston Globe ). "Of all the books that will examine the Boston Red Sox's stunning come-from-behind 2004 ALCS win over the Yankees and subsequent World Series victory, none will have this book's warmth, personality, or depth" ( Publishers Weekly ). Early in 2004, two writers and Red Sox fans, Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King, decided to chronicle the upcoming season, one of the most hotly anticipated in baseball history. They would sit together at Fenway. They would exchange emails. They would write about the games. And, as it happened, they would witness the greatest comeback ever in sports, and the first Red Sox championship in eighty-six years. What began as a Sox-filled summer like any other is now a fan's notes for the ages. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Synopsis: Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland strays from the path while she and her recently divorced mother and brother take a hike along a branch of the Appalachian Trail. Lost for days, wandering farther and farther astray, Trisha has only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn't her only adversary, though - something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods. Stephen King talks baseball Bangor Daily News 11/9/14 Video On Baseball netting "King said he understands why the Red Sox bear responsibility but admitted he can take care of himself and that the nets “steal away the pure joy of being there.” He said the nets make him feel like he’s “paying good money to sit in a cage.” Click on photo for Bangor Daily News article. "How Stephen King’s love of baseball helped generations of young Bangor athletes"

  • Snow, Billy (2021)

    Al Snow, Al Snow, and Billie Rae Koch (son, brother and daughter of the late Billy Snow).

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