Nearly a century ago, a major leaguer from Gorham had been a teammate with players who were later banned from baseball for throwing a World Series.

The player from Gorham has been mostly forgotten. But while batting around baseball stories, the name Roland “Cuke” Barrows popped up this spring in a coffee shop chat with Phil Dugas of Gorham, a former pro baseball catcher. Dugas, now a town councilor in Gorham, mentioned Barrows had played in the majors.

An outfielder, Barrows played for the Chicago White Sox from 1909 to 1912. Seven years after Barrows played his last game, a half dozen of his former teammates were still with the White Sox during the notorious “Black Sox scandal,” which darkened baseball in 1919.

Barrows had played previously with two of the eight White Sox players who were banned from baseball for life for conspiring with gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series. The favored White Sox of the American League lost the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds of the National League five games to three in a best of nine series.

Barrows, who was born in 1883 in Gray, debuted in the major leagues as a 26-year-old rookie with the White Sox on Sept. 18, 1909. Statistics show that he hit left-handed but threw right.

Barrows’ stats indicate he didn’t carry big lumber but apparently saw some duty as a pinch hitter. Seeing limited action in 32 career games as a hitter, Barrows’ batting average was .192 but he had an on base percentage of nearly .300 in 99 at bats. He had 17 singles and two doubles but didn’t connect for any homers.

For a country boy, Barrows was pretty handy with a ball glove. Barrows only committed one error in each of his first two seasons and was perfect in the field the following two years.

As a fielder, his 27-game fielding percentage for his four seasons was .950. Barrows played in five games in 1909; six, 1910; 13, 1911; and three in 1912.

Barrows was on the first White Sox team that began playing in Comiskey Park during the 1910 season. He played well before games were broadcast over radio and even before uniforms had numbers much less names emblazoned on the backs.

In his last year with the White Sox, Barrows was on the White Sox roster with several players who were still there in 1919 including knuckleballer Eddie Cicotte and infielder Buck Weaver. As a result of the scandal, Cicotte and Weaver were banned for life from baseball.

The eight White Sox players barred included “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, by far the most remembered of the alleged conspirators. But Barrows hadn’t been a teammate of Jackson, who joined the White Sox in 1915.

But Barrows had played in 1912 with second baseman William “Kid” Gleason. In 1919, Gleason was the innocent White Sox manager, who had been betrayed by his players in the World Series scandal.

Unmarked by scandal or fame, Barrows’ baseball career has been buried in the archives. But knowledge of Barrows’ baseball days didn’t skip past Dugas, a catcher who played for the Hamilton Cardinals in Ontario and St. Joseph Cardinals, Both Barrows and Dugas are members of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.

After hanging up his spikes, Barrows carried on the Gorham greenhouse business founded by his father-in-law. Barrows, who died in Gorham in 1955, and his wife didn’t have children and Barrows’ cousin took over the business, according to Donna Allen, current owner of Barrows Greenhouses.

Allen said the plaque honoring Barrows as a member of the Maine hall was sent to the greenhouse. But Allen said a distant relative of Barrows in California requested it.

Allen knows about Barrows’ baseball career and explained the origin of his baseball nickname.

“He was cool as a cucumber,” Allen said.


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