By Mark Paulette,
This week’s MLB Draft saw Cody Lawyerson, from Moscow, ME, selected in the 14th Round by the Minnesota Twins. That got me thinking…what does the state’s all-time MLB squad look like? In total, there have been 76 players born in the state of Maine to appear in the majors. However, that list includes people like former-Red Sox pitcher, Bob Stanley, who was born in Portland but grew up and blossomed into an amateur star in New Jersey.
For the purpose of this fictional team, we’re dealing with past players who were either born and raised in the Pine Tree State, or moved here at an age where they spent a majority of their grade school/college life in the state (i.e. Mike Bordick).
So, without further ado, I present to you Maine’s all-time MLB team…
P – Jack Coombs: Coombs moved to Kennebunk, ME, at the age of four and played high school ball at Freeport H.S. before attending Coburn Classical prep school in Waterville and ultimately Colby College. He was a four sport athlete at Colby, where he played football, tennis and ran track in addition to playing baseball. Three weeks after graduating from Colby, Coombs made his ML-debut for the Philadelphia A’s, and tossed a 7-hit shutout vs. the Washington Senators. Coombs went on to win 158 games and three World Series championships during his 15-year career, and was instrumental in the A’s 1910 W.S. title, where he started, finished, and won games two, three and five of the series. Coombs turned in one of the greatest pitching seasons in the Modern Era (post-1900) in 1910 when he led the league with 31 wins, 13 shutouts and posted a tiddy 1.30 era, threw 35 complete games, and struck out 224 batters in 353 innings pitched. Coombs went onto coach Duke University baseball for 24 years and the baseball fields at both Duke and Colby are named after him.
Career numbers: 158-110/2.78/1052, 2320 innings pitched, 187 complete games, 35 shutouts, 354 games
Best year: (1910) 31-9/1.30/224, 353 innings pitched, 35 complete games, 13 shutouts
P – Bill Swift: Following a dominant 4-year run at the University of Maine, where he guided the Black Bears to 4-straight College World Series appearances, the South Portland native was selected #2 overall in the 1984 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners. (The highest a player from Maine has been selected). Swift established himself as one of the top relievers in the game between 1990-91 while pitching for the M’s, posting a 2.39 era in 55 appearances in ‘90, followed by a 1.99 era and 17 saves in 71 appearances in ‘91. Swift then emerged as one of the NL’s best starting pitchers after being traded to the San Francisco Giants. He posted an NL-best 2.08 era in ‘92 and won 21 games for the Giants in ‘93. In their 1999 issue, USA Today named Swift as one of Maine’s best athletes of the 20th century.
Career numbers: 94-78/3.95/767, 1599.2 innings pitched, 220 starts, 403 games
Best year: (1993) 21-8/2.82/157, 232.2 innings pitched, 1.07 whip, 34 games
P – Irv Young: Born in Columbia Falls, ME, Young debuted in the majors with the Boston Beaneaters in 1905 and quickly established himself as a workhorse. In his first two seasons, Young led the league in games started (42, 41), complete games (41, 37), and innings pitched (378, 358.1). Unfortunately for Young, the Beaneaters were one of the worst teams in the league and his records suffered as a consequence. He is one of only two pitchers in ML-history to win 20 games for a team that lost 100+ games. After his playing days, Young retired to the Pine Tree State, where he passed away in Brewer in 1935 at the age of 57.
Career numbers: 63-95/3.11/560, 1384.2 innings pitched, 21 shutouts, 209 games, 120 complete games
Best year: (1905) 20-21/2.90/156, 378 innings pitched, 42 games, 41 complete games, 7 shutouts
P – Kid Madden: We go back to the 19th century to find the fourth pitcher in the rotation. Madden was born in Portland in 1866 and debuted as a 19-year-old 21-game winner with the Boston Beaneaters in 1887. Madden would also play for the Boston Reds of the Player’s League, where he won the 1890 Player’s League Championship, and make a brief stop in Baltimore with the Orioles before his five year career came to an end. Madden returned to his hometown of Portland following his career and sadly passed away at the young age of 29, due to tuberculosis, in 1896.
Career numbers: 54-50/3.92/284, 958 innings pitched, 122 games, 97 complete games
Best year: (1887) 21-14/3.79/81, 321 innings pitched, 37 games, 36 complete games, three shutouts
P – Carl Willey: Willey was born in Cherryfield, ME, and though he didn’t make his Major League debut until the age of 27, carved out an 8-year career that saw him pitch in 199 games. Willey was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers from 1958-1962 and finished his career by spending four seasons in New York with the Mets from 1963-1965. As a rookie, he led the NL in shutouts with four. Willey returned to the Cherryfield area after his playing days, before eventually moving to Ellsworth later in life where he passed away in 2009 at the age of 78.
Career numbers: 38-58/3.76/493, 875.2 innings pitched, 199 games, 28 complete games, 11 shutouts
Best year: (1958) 9-7/2.70/74, 140 innings pitched, 23 games, nine complete games, four shutouts
C – Bill Carrigan: A two-sport star at Lewiston High School, Carrigan spent 10 seasons with the Red Sox between 1906-1916. Carrigan was part of three World Championship teams in 1912, ‘15 and ‘16, serving as player/manager on the latter two. Carrigan returned to manage the Sox between 1927-29, accumulating a 489-500 career record, before stepping away to become a banker in Lewiston. Carrigan, a light-hitting catcher, is certainly more noted for his managerial abilities, as he and Terry Francona are the only managers in franchise history to win multiple World Series Title.
Career numbers: .257/6/235, 506 hits, 709 games
Best year: (1909) .296/1/36, 94 games, 83 hits, 13 2B’s, .341 obp
1B – Del Bissonette: Arguably the greatest hitter the state of Maine has ever produced, Bissonette was born in Winthrop, ME, and attended Kents Hill High School, as well as a brief stop at Westbrook Seminary. Bissonette made a name for himself in 1925 when he nearly won the Class A New York-Penn League triple crown, slashing .367 with 31 homers, 167 rbi, 229 hits, 46 doubles, 20 triples and 168 runs. (All led the league, except average, which he finished nine points off the league lead). Bissonette burst onto the Major League scene with the Brooklyn Robins in 1928, finishing 18th in MVP voting, and would hit a career-high .336 with 113 rbi in 1930 before injuries derailed his career. After his playing days, Bissonette briefly served as manager of the Boston Braves in 1945, going 25-34. The Winthrop native returned to Maine after his time in MLB, and passed away in Augusta in 1972 at the age of 72.
Career numbers: .305/66/391, 699 hits, 117 2B’s, 50 3B’s, .371 obp, .486 slugging %
Best year (1928) .320/25/106, 188 hits, 30 2B’s, 13 3B’s, 90 runs, .543 slugging %
2B – Mike Bordick: We’re taking advantage of Bordy’s versatility for the purpose of this article. A graduate of Hampden Academy and the University of Maine, Bordick went on to play 14-seasons in the majors for the A’s, Orioles, Mets and Blue Jays. Known for his defensive prowess, so much so that upon signing with Baltimore, the O’s moved Cal Ripken Jr. to 3rd base, Bordick set records for consecutive errorless games (110) and chances (543) by a shortstop. Bordick was an All Star in 2000 and is a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame.
Career numbers: .260/91/626, 1500 hits, .982 career fielding percentage
Best year: (2000) .285/20/80, 166 hits, 30 2B’s, 9 stolen bases
3B – Harry Lord: Born in Porter, ME, in 1882, Lord attended Bates College primarily as a pitcher and did not begin playing professional baseball until the age of 25 when he joined the Boston Americans. Lord spent nine years in the majors with the Americans (Red Sox), White Sox and the Buffalo Blues of the short-lived Federal League. Noted for his speed, Lord swiped 30+ bags four times in his career, including several steals of home. In 1910, he was one of 10 members of the Red Sox that would go onto manage in MLB, as he had a brief stint as player/manager with Buffalo in 1915, guiding the Blues to a 59-48 record before the Federal League ultimately folded. Lord was blacklisted from the majors after a salary dispute with White Sox owner, Charlie Comiskey. Lord returned to Maine after his playing days, and settled in Portland. Lord passed away in Westbrook in 1948 and is buried in the small village of Kezar Falls (located in Porter, ME).
Career numbers: .278/14/294, 1026 hits, 208 stolen bases, 70 3B’s, 509 runs, 972 games
Best year: (1911) .321/3/61, 180 hits, 18 2B’s, 18 3B’s, 103 runs, 43 stolen bases
SS – Freddy Parent: Born in Biddeford, ME, Parent spent 12 seasons in the Majors from 1899-1911, spending six years in Boston, which coincidentally were the franchise’s first six seasons from 1901-1907. Known for his fielding skills and as an intelligent baserunner, Parent was the starting shortstop for the 1903 Americans (as they were known at the time) who won the first-ever World Series. Parent hit .281/4RBI/8R in the series. Parent passed away in Sanford, ME, in 1972 at the age of 96.
Career numbers: .262/20/471, 1306 hits, 633 2B’s, 74 3B’s, 184 stolen bases
Best year: (1903) .304/4/80, 170 hits, 31 2B’s, 17 3B’s, 24 stolen bases
LF – Ryan Flaherty: Son of Ed Flaherty and a native of Portland, ME, Flaherty is one of the most accomplished high school players in the state’s history. He guided Deering High School to a state championship and was named Mr. Maine Baseball in 2005, while also leading Nova Seafood to an American Legion World Series title. After staring at Vanderbilt University, Flaherty became the highest position player to be drafted in the state’s history, when he was selected with the 41st overall pick (first round conditional) by the Chicago Cubs in the 2008 MLB Draft. Flaherty debuted with the Baltimore Orioles in 2012, where he remained as a utility player through 2017. He spent parts of last season with the Atlanta Braves, appearing in 81 games, and this year is hitting .262/6/32 in 47 games for the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
Career numbers: .216/37/141, 281 hits, 148 runs, 533 games
Best year: (2013) .224/10/27, 55 hits, 11 2B’s, 28 runs, 85 games
CF – George Gore: Gore was one of the most accomplished, and first, players at the major league level out of the state of Maine. Gore, who was born in Saccarappa, ME, and grew up playing baseball in Hartland, spent 14 years in the majors setting two early records for steals and extra base hits, as well as winning 1880 batting title with a .360 average. Gore’s talents were recognized while he was playing for the S.D. Warren Paper Mill in Westbrook and it was Albert Spaulding (Hall of Famer and founder of Spaulding Sporting Goods) who offered him his first contract with the Chicago White Stockings. Gore debuted with Chicago in 1879 and eclipsed a .300 average in eight seasons, eclipsed a .400 obp in five seasons, and scored 100+ runs in seven seasons, while also leading the majors in runs scored an additional two years. Gore briefly served as player/manager of the St. Louis Browns at the end of the 1892 season, his final in MLB, going 6-9-1.
Career numbers: .301/46/618, 1612 hits, 262 2B’s, 94 3B’s, 170 stolen bases (became an official stat in 1886, his 8th year in the majors), 1327 runs, .386 obp, 1310 games
Best year: (1883) .334/2/52, 131 hits, 30 2B’s, 9 3B’s, 105 runs, .377 obp, 92 games
RF – Louis Sockalexis: A native of Indian Island, Sockalexis’ athletic feats were a thing of legend long before he played his first game in the majors. It was reported from an early age that Sockalexis possessed a strong arm, with stories of him throwing a baseball across the Penobscot River from Indian Island to Old Town. He signed with the Cleveland Spiders in 1897, though his stint in the majors was brief as off-field issues took their toll. Sockalexis returned to Maine, where he worked at a logging camp in Burlington until his death in 1913. In 1915, it is said that Cleveland (who were the Naps at the time) changed their name to the Indians in honor of Sockalexis, the first Native American to play in MLB. He is a member of the Indians’ Hall of Fame, as well as the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.
Career numbers: .313/3/55, 115 hits, 8 3B’s, 16 stolen bases, 54 runs, 94 games
Best year: (1897) .338/3/42, 94 hits, 9 2B’s, 8 3B’s, 16 stolen bases, 43 runs, 66 games
DH – Irv Ray: Ray was born in Harrington, ME, and was the first University of Maine alumni to play in the major leagues after playing baseball in Orono in the mid-1880’s. Ray debuted with the Boston Beaneaters in 1888, hitting .331 and .360 in limited action for the Baltimore Orioles in ‘89 + ‘90. Ray returned to Maine following his four year stay in the majors, and passed away in his hometown of Harrington in 1948 at the age of 84.
Career numbers: .292/3/123, 263 hits, 30 2B’s, 11 3B’s, 154 runs, 59 stolen bases, 226 games
Best year: (1891) .278/0/58, 116 hits, 17 2B’s, 5 3B’s, 72 runs, 28 stolen bases, 103 games
Mark Paulette is the executive producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine