Sunday, March 9, 2014
PORTLAND — In this season of giving, a mother received the gift that will help heal as it celebrates a high school baseball team's accomplishment and a son's life. Diane True never saw it coming.
Family photo of Kevin MacDonald playing baseball in his senior year of high school.
"Look," she whispered as she held up her hand. The gold of a large championship ring caught the light and reflected it back. Much as Kevin MacDonald reflected his joy of living day after day until a bullet ended it all 10 years ago.
His name was engraved onto the ring, the first of many presented Wednesday night to the Cheverus baseball team, six months after it defeated Lewiston for the Class A state title. But while Nik Lops and Spencer Cooke and Joey Royer and the others anticipated sliding the heavy piece of jewelry onto fingers, the surprise was very real for True. She gasped as she cried, taking the ring from Brian True, the assistant baseball coach at Cheverus and MacDonald's brother.
True was invited to the brief and casual ceremony because the Kevin MacDonald Memorial Field on the Cheverus campus had gotten a scoreboard with his name on it, but the field had never been dedicated. After Cheverus won its first state baseball championship, it was time to make it official.
"In a very positive way, the waiting is over for both," said Coach Mac McKew, speaking to nearly 100 players, family members and friends crowded into the school's Loyola Library. MacDonald's memory is part of the school's fabric, he said. There is an obligation to keep his memory alive.
Playing fields and arenas are named to remember the living and breathing greatness of people. Then 10 years or a generation passes and the stories behind the names are forgotten.
Kevin MacDonald's greatness wasn't in the touchdowns he scored, or the buzzer-beating jump shots he made, or in his pitching performances. His power was in a presence that embraced rather than smacked. MacDonald was the athlete with talent who wanted to be your friend. He was the leader who made sure the youngest and the least experienced teammates were brought into the group.
"He was a salt-of-the-earth type of guy," said Bobby Agger, a teammate on the Andrews Post team that made it to Fargo, N.D., and the American Legion World Series. "He was a giving person, the best kind."
MacDonald didn't get caught up in crosstown rivalries. His circle of friends included Portland and Deering kids. In fact, he was the lone Cheverus player on that Andrews Post team. He pitched or played first base, and batted third in the lineup.
He left Cheverus for Lemoyne College in New York. He moved to Austin, Texas, to work for a rapidly expanding software company. One night, he and a colleague called a cab to take them home from an Austin pub.
During the ride, an argument started. The driver pulled his cab to the side of the road. Gunshots rang out. MacDonald's friend died at the scene from three bullets. A fourth bullet pierced MacDonald's lung and severed his spine. He was 23.
The cabbie told police his passengers attacked him and he was defending himself. MacDonald lived long enough to give his version. He died in an Austin hospital, six hours after being shot. After an investigation, the police found too many discrepancies in the cabbie's story. He was arrested and charged with murder. After complaining of chest pains, he was found dead in his cell.
"If Kevin lived, he would have been paralyzed from the waist down," said his mother. "But I know he would have been a husband and a father and a coach. He would still be competing.
"I don't ask myself why Kevin died. I ask how God blessed me with a son like this."
Kevin MacDonald lives.
Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: