PORTLAND – Ron Farr started this season as a coach in the Portland North Little League just like his 50 others.

“I teach them the fundamentals,” he said. “How to catch and how to throw. Hitting comes later. I’m doing the same drills I’ve always done. The kids listen.”

Like fundamentals, Farr never gets old.

He started coaching Little League in 1962, shortly after he got married and moved into the North Deering neighborhood, where he still lives. He has coached every year since and has no plans to stop.

“I enjoy the kids. They keep me energized. I look forward to it every year,” he said. “I’m 74, but I feel like I’m 50.”

Today is Ron Farr Day at the Portland North Little League field, off Auburn Street behind Lyman Moore Middle School. A cookout is planned at 4 p.m.

“We’ve invited all the players in the league and their parents,” said Scott Stacey, league president. “We’re trying to get the word out to Ron’s former players and coaches. We’re going to recognize his truly incredible commitment and dedication to the league. The Portland North community is a better place for his involvement.

“Not even counting baseball,” Stacey said, “the life lessons and experiences alone Ron has taught the youth of North Deering over the years are remarkable.”

Counting his teams and the league’s all-star teams, Farr estimates he has coached close to 1,000 kids, including his son, Ron Farr Jr. — who had a fine career at Deering High School — and several combinations of fathers and sons.

The North Deering area feeds Deering and Portland high schools. Those schools’ baseball programs have been very successful through the years, with several of Farr’s players playing for the Rams or the Bulldogs.

Ryan Flaherty, a rookie with the Baltimore Orioles, played four Little League seasons for Farr.

“I was watching Ryan on TV the other night against Boston,” said Farr. “I’m a Red Sox fan, but when Ryan got a hit I jumped out of my seat.”

Farr recalls the circumstances when he drafted Flaherty as a 9-year-old for his team. Farr’s team had won the league championship the previous season, so he had the last draft pick. There were eight teams in the league.

“Someone came up and told me I should draft Ryan,” said Farr. “I told him that I was pretty sure Ryan wouldn’t be around by the time I made my first pick (eighth overall). But when it got around to my turn to draft, Ryan was still available. I couldn’t believe it. What were the other coaches thinking?”

From that beginning playing organized ball for Farr, Flaherty has reached the major leagues. Farr cherishes an autographed baseball that Flaherty gave him earlier this year.

Dave Wike played for Farr 20 years ago and now is his assistant coach. Wike’s son, Dylan, 12, is playing his fourth season for Farr.

“Mr. Farr is a great coach,” Dylan said. “He knows what he’s talking about. All the drills we do are fun. He’s taught me so much about baseball, but he’s also taught me about life in general.”

Dave Wike, who played for Portland High, said Farr’s enthusiasm for the game hasn’t wavered.

“Fifty consecutive years — that’s something else,” Wike said. “That’s a testimony to Ron’s commitment to the league and to the community of North Deering. Ron still knows the game and the situations. He knows how many pitches our pitchers have thrown and what they have left. He knows how many innings a kid has played and who needs to get into the game.”

In two weeks, Farr will coach one of Portland North’s all-star teams for the 13th consecutive year. Overall, he has coached 20 all-star teams for the league. He’s never had a team reach the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., but in 2007 he came close.

“We were two games away from Williamsport,” said Farr. That team was made up mostly of players who are now at Portland High.

Farr’s teams have won 14 Portland North league championships and six City of Portland titles.

Farr, who worked in production for the Portland Press Herald for 45 years, started coaching because of an umpiring gig.

“After I moved into the neighborhood, one of the guys on the street said they were looking for umpires,” Farr said. “I enjoyed umpiring, but I told them I would rather coach. There was an opening because a coach was out sick.”

A half-century later, Farr is still going strong — and looking forward to next year.

“I’ll have nine returning players,” he said.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH