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Augusta Babe Ruth 50th Anniversary

Augusta Babe Ruth 50th Anniversary

For many years, the National Guard funded the Babe Ruth league and provided housing and transportation where necessary. The Armory Committee of the Maine Army National Guard ran Beano and held dances at the Armory and these activities helped to fund the league from year to year.

Since 1958, the league has grown from 4 teams to 10 at the present and includes players from Augusta, Chelsea, Hallowell, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph, Windsor, Whitefield, Jefferson, China, West Gardiner, Somerville, Dresden, Palermo, and Vassalboro. The Augusta National Guard Babe Ruth League has been very successful over the years filling a void between Little League and American Legion baseball. Its All-Star teams have won many District and State Championships and on 2 occasions, 1997 and 2007, won regional championships and advanced to the Babe Ruth World Series.

In the early years, games were played at Capitol Park and Williams Field as well as Farmingdale, China, and Gardiner. In the late 70’s, the league recognized a need to have its own fields, and two fields were constructed on Piggery Road. These fields were later named for Dick McGuire and Fred Morton. Funding for the construction of these fields came from a variety of sources including local businesses, lending institutions, and individuals. Many donations were collected, and a considerable amount of volunteer labor was obtained. The complex has grown over the years and is now one of the finest in the state and has played host to many events such as Babe Ruth District, State, and regional tournaments, American Legion State Tournaments, and Maine High School Eastern Maine and State Championship games.

To recognize the involvement of the Maine Army National Guard and the many businesses and individuals that have contributed to the growth and success of the league, June 21,2008 was set aside to commemorate 50 years of Babe Ruth Baseball in Augusta. Ceremonies were held at Fred Morton Field at 11:30 A.M.

League President Gary Duncklee welcomed everyone to the complex and introduced the 2007 Babe Ruth team that advanced to the Babe Ruth World Series in Alabama. After the Invocation by Dean Lachance, the Mayor, Roger Katz, and city council members were introduced. Mayor Katz presented a proclamation to President Gary Duncklee recognizing the 50 years of Babe Ruth baseball. Senator Libby Mitchell was introduced, and also recognized the milestone the league attained.

Steve Tricomi, State of Maine Babe Ruth Commissioner, was introduced by Al Cloutier and presented a plaque to President Duncklee recognizing 50 years of baseball in Augusta.
Joe Linscott gave a brief history of the Maine Army National Guard’s involvement with the founding and long-term support of the league. In attendance from the Guard were Sam Laflin, the first president of the league, Joan McGuire widow of Dick McGuire, Jack Kersey, past president of Augusta Babe Ruth and past president of the Maine Army National Guard Armory committee, and Walter Golden a 44-year veteran of the Army National Guard and a long-time coach and director of the league. Recognition was also given to Jim Comeau, Larry Gray, and Arthur Pilsbury of the Army National Guard. Each has a history of long-term service to Babe Ruth baseball. In attendance from the present-day Maine Army National Guard were Col. John Jansen, Chief of Staff, Col. Mike McLaughlin Director of Facility Engineering, and Lt. Col. Dwaine Drummond, Battalion Commander of the 133rd Engineering Battalion. A plaque was presented to Lt. Col. Drummond recognizing the long-term involvement of the guard with Babe Ruth baseball.

At this time, the original 1958 team sponsors were recognized. The sponsors were Ft. West ern Tire Company, The Elks, Stone & Cooper, and Pulp & Sulphite Local 57. Gary Burns, a Babe Ruth player in 1958 and a long time Babe Ruth coach and past Capitol Area Recreation Association president, introduced members of the Maine State championship team of 50 years ago. Those in attendance were Dave Fletcher, Steve Lancaster, Paul Auger, Larry Coughlin, Calvin Boston, Denny Buotte, and Arnold Ricker. Deceased member Bob Browne was represented by his widow, Julie and son Robbie, and Ken Pruett was represented by his brother Jim Pruett.

At this time, recognition was also given to local businesses and individuals that have made significant contributions to the growth and development of the two fields, McGuire and Morton. Those honored were:

1. City of Augusta 6. Ralph Stiman – Stiman Steel
2. Capitol Area Technical Center 7. Don Santerre
3. G&E Roofing 8. Bowie Bros. Well Drilling
4. Kennebec Savings Bank 9. Lajoie Bros.
5. Ray Beaudoin – Beaudoin Electric 10. John Fallona – On-Target Locating Service

Revenue from advertising signs on both fields helps the league meet its financial obligations and all sign sponsors were recognized individually. Many of these businesses help in other areas such as defraying costs associated with tournament travel, and some are team sponsors.

At this point in the program, President Duncklee introduced all team members, coaches, manager, and team sponsors. Brady Palmer Real Estate was not in attendance as Gardiner was playing for the State Class B title in Bangor, and all of the Brady Palmer players were supporting their local high school team.

2008 Augusta Babe Ruth team sponsors are: McDonald Page, Senator Inn and Restaurant, American Awards, Damon’s Sandwich Shop, Brady-Palmer Real Estate, On-Target Utility Services, Disabled American Veterans, Downeast Energy, S&M Radiator, Post 2, and Walmart.

The national anthem was rendered very capably by the duet of Jake LaChance and Jason Burns, both key members of the 2007 Augusta Babe Ruth team that advanced to the Babe Ruth World Series in Andalsuia, Alabama.

To conclude the 50th anniversary, the ceremonial pitch was delivered by Walter Golden a coach of Augusta Babe Ruth in 1958 to Gary Duncklee, 2008 Augusta Babe Ruth President.