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Batter Up!

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

 

            The first baseball games in Millinocket may have been played on Shack Hill near the rapidly growing millsite. The teams might have been made up of men from “the Hill” and men from “the Town. By 1906, GNP ordered the “homes” on the Hill to be removed thus ending that baseball rivalry.

            Several Millinocket men who achieved notice as great baseball players are highlighted in old news articles and other resources at the MHS museum. One was Billy Jones who played for and was a manager for the Millinocket Baseball Club in the early 1900’s and briefly for semi-pro and Boston teams. In 1909, Jones was a member of the Millinocket Tigers, a team coached by Dr. Cody. This team often played the Old Town team.

Jones was a small man, but that didn’t matter. He batted left and threw right. He had a sense of humor that led him to play pranks on his teammates. One season, the Eastern Maine League that Millinocket played in advertised that a free pair of shoes would be given every time the shoe sign in the outfield was hit. Jones practically put the shoe company out of business.

A member of the Boston Braves in 1911-1912, Jones once batted against Babe Ruth when Ruth was a pitcher. He had five hits, beat four bunts and stole five bases. Billy Jones died in 1946.  Jones is a member of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.

Clyde Sukeforth was recruited to play for the Millinocket Tigers even though he was not from Millinocket. He played in several New England leagues and eventually was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1926. In later years, Sukeforth became a manager for the Montreal Royals, then a coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers. There in 1946, he was instrumental in signing Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers roster.

Other names on the old Millinocket Tigers team include William Albert who played for a time with the GNP baseball team and for Georgetown. His career was cut short due to a fatal auto accident. The Tigers lineup in 1908 (from an old poster, game between Tigers and East Millinocket) included Albert, Perro, Barker, G. Black, A. Gonya, F. Boynton, Kittrick, E, Boynton and Herrick.

In those early days, the baseball games were played at the local ball park in the area extending from near Aroostook Avenue School (built 1915) all the way to Millinocket Stream and extending to the area of the current junior-senior high school. Water St. and the extension of State St. came later. The ballpark area had a large grandstand and a pavilion.

In the years since, there are others who went from local Millinocket baseball fame to college and professional baseball. Visit the museum to share your stories and photos and those of friends and relatives.

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Photo: Millinocket Baseball Club, Billy Jones in front row on right


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