One of the longest-lived names in Windham is “Mains” and one of them played professional baseball – in addition to making baseball bats. Now that it’s baseball season, we’ll take a look at one of Windham’s professional athletes.

They called him “Grasshopper” or “Willie,” and his image on a baseball card recently sold for more than $2,600. A Windham relative has been collecting newspaper clippings and other “Mains” ephemerae for a long time and shared it with the Windham Historical Society.

In a 2010 interview with Jim Mains, the then-newly elected head of the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Lakes Region Weekly editor John Balentine asked him about his ties to the area. Mains responded: “My grandfather, Willard Eben Mains, was born in North Windham in 1868. He was a professional baseball player, played with the 1888 Chicago White Stockings. He made baseball bats in the off-season. He made them in Sandy Creek, Harrison, and even a few in the Fryeburg area. And he sold those all over the country. My father was also a Major League Baseball player and he returned in the late ’40s, took up the bat business and established a woodturning business. My father was James R. (Bud) Mains.”

At the age of 19, Willard “Grasshopper” Mains started his career with the Chicago White Stockings in 1888, and played two games – winning one and losing the other. He went to the minor leagues and played 545 games – winning 318 and losing 179. He returned to the major leagues in 1891, pitching in 30 games. Teams he played for included the Boston Beaneaters, Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers. His son, Jim, pitched one game in the majors for the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics.

After his baseball days were over, Willard Mains returned to Maine, worked at the baseball bat business and died on May 23, 1923. He is buried in Bridgton.

Information for this article from the Windham Historical Society, Phil Kennard Wikipedia and Find-a-Grave.

Willard Mains, born in Windham in 1868, played professional baseball with several clubs and then returned to Maine to found a bat manufacturing facility in Bridgton.Courtesy image

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