BIDDEFORD – Joey Drapeau hasn’t picked up a bat in years, but the former University of Maine and Biddeford High slugger continues to add to the state’s rich baseball history.  

Drapeau, 39, enters the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame at the organization’s annual ceremony and banquet on July 28 at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland as part of a nine-member class that features players, coaches and an umpire.  

Former UMaine and Biddeford High slugger Joey Drapeau will be inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame on July 28. (Contributed Photo)

While Drapeau, who lives in Biddeford with his two daughters, never gave much thought to a spot in the hall of fame, he considers the recognition an honor and he’s proud to represent his city and state. 

“As life goes on, things like this put a smile on your face and bring you back to when you were younger and times were a little easier,” Drapeau said. “It’s definitely a great feeling.” 

Drapeau’s prowess on the diamond manifested at an early age. He started at shortstop for the Biddeford Little League All-Star Team as an 11-year-old. He started at catcher as a sophomore at Biddeford High under a head coach in Roger LaBranche who acknowledged he wasn’t known for playing underclassmen extended innings. But, he couldn’t keep Drapeau’s bat out of the lineup. 

In 16 games as a sophomore, Drapeau hit .341. He improved that number to a .353 batting average as a junior before hitting an eye-popping .415 as a senior. A self-proclaimed power hitter, Drapeau didn’t need to sacrifice average for distance. He popped eight homers during his three years playing high school baseball and in 1996 he helped lead the Tigers to their first state title appearance in a dozen years. 

“You have these special players who play for you – the way they bring their attitude, the way they handle the coaching – Joey was right up there with one of the kids who I enjoyed coaching (the most),” LaBranche said. “No doubt. He stands out.” 

LaBranche, who coached Biddeford’s junior varsity team from 1982-1992 and varsity from 1993-2004, lived near the Drapeau family and often saw father and son outside practicing. 

One of LaBranche’s favorite memories of coaching Drapeau came during the 1998 postseason in a home game against Brunswick. Biddeford held a 1-0 lead and a Tigers baserunner was on first base with one out and Drapeau at the plate against a “flamethrower” of a pitcher. 

LaBranche called a timeout to tell Drapeau he had one pitch to hit before he wanted a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second.

Drapeau deposited the pitch over the fence for a two-run home run. Biddeford won the game 3-1. 

“Pretty cool,” LaBranche said. “He did what he did.” 

Drapeau continued hitting once he reached the college ranks at UMaine. After a redshirt season, he played in 210 games over four years, accumulating a .334 batting average, 50 home runs, 58 doubles and 196 RBIs. He was a four-time American East All-Conference selection. 

“His power production numbers were off the charts. Once he got into the starting lineup, he just tore it up,” said Don Douglas, a member of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame Committee. “(Drapeau’s) certainly very worthy of induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame based on that consistent four-year run period of high-level performance at the Division I level.”  

During his sophomore year at UMaine, the New York Yankees invited Drapeau to a private pre-draft workout at the old Yankee Stadium. Two days later he was hitting batting practice homers over the Green Monster before playing in the New England Collegiate All-Star Game at Fenway Park. 

A three-homer outing against Delaware that season and an around the horn triple play that he started from his third-base position in a game against Holy Cross at legendary Goodall Park in Sanford his senior year serve as Drapeau’s personal favorite moments as a Black Bear. 

Drapeau enters the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Rick Lashua, a former player at UMaine in the 1980s, Tim Olore, a former coach at Presque Isle High School, Mike Parquette, a former umpire who called games at the high school, college and professional levels, Loren Ritchie, an outfielder for the storied Guilford Advertisers of the state’s town team baseball days, Tim Scott, a former UMaine player in the early 1990s and two-year member of the Colorado Rockies organization, Harvey Shapiro, a former coach at Bowdoin College, Frank Watson, a former college standout at UMaine and the University of Southern Maine, and Mike Verrill, who coached at Maranacook and Messalonskee high schools.   

“It’s a diverse class. It’s very representative of the various types of contributions that people can make,” Douglas said. “It’s a rich history of baseball in Maine.” 

Drapeau has traded in his bat for a golf club these days. That is when he’s not taking his daughters Brynn, 5, and Aria, 3, to dance and gymnastics practices or working at a mortgage company in Saco. 

Even with a successful career and kids of his own, the first people who Drapeau called after he was told he was being inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame were his parents, Andy and Patricia Drapeau. From shagging fly balls and taking hours of batting practice at St. Louis Field to the state’s hall of fame. Not bad for a local kid. 

“It was nice growing up in Biddeford with all the support,” Drapeau said. “Biddeford was always a good place to play any kind of sport because of the fans and the people around town are really passionate … It was a really great experience.” 

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