Joey Drapeau, right, of Biddeford High and the University of Maine, receives his Maine Baseball Hall of Fame plaque and bat from hall of fame committee member Jack Dawson, left. (ANTHONY LOMBARDI/Journal Tribune)

PORTLAND – The Maine Baseball Hall of Fame opened its doors to nine new members at the 50th anniversary induction ceremony on Sunday at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland.

Joey Drapeau of Biddeford High and the University of Maine was the first inductee introduced to the several hundred people in attendance, and the former Tiger and Black Bear was quick to thank those who sacrificed the most. 

“My parents traveled a lot – they came to almost every game – and they were a big part of (my) sports career and helping me get through college,” Drapeau said. “It’s an honor.” 

Drapeau entered Maine’s most prestigious group of contributors to the game of baseball 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.   

Drapeau played in 210 games over his four years at UMaine, accumulating a .334 batting average, 50 home runs, 58 doubles and 196 RBIs. He was a four-time American East All-Conference selection. He hit eight home runs during his three years at Biddeford, and he helped lead the Tigers to their first state title appearance in a dozen years in 1996. 

In his speech, Drapeau recalled memories of 6 a.m. position workouts in college with his now-brother-in-law, Aaron Izaryk, and he shared his appreciation to all of his aunts and uncles who followed his entire career. 

Drapeau, 39, shared a story of when he was a 5-year-old boy who wouldn’t leave his mother, Patricia Drapeau, alone when she attempted to relax in the backyard. She’d toss him the ball from her chair, he’d swing, retrieve the ball and hand it back to start the process over. 

“I think that’s where I started to hit lefties pretty good,” Drapeau said. 

Drapeau also retold a story of his father, Andy Drapeau, who used to throw him batting practice at St. Louis Field in Biddeford. On one outside pitch, Drapeau smacked a screaming line drive back up the middle that nailed Dad in his thigh and caused him to fall to the dirt. Drapeau remembers being concerned that he might get a small scolding for the bruise, but Dad stood up and told his son to get right back in the batter’s box. 

Olivia Howe of Thornton Academy, left, receives her plaque for being one of the four recipients of the Marie Noel Softball Scholarship Award from hall of fame committee member Brian Gordon. (ANTHONY LOMBARDI/Journal Tribune)

Thornton Academy outgoing senior Olivia Howe was recognized during the ceremony as one of four recipients of the Marie Noel Softball Scholarship Award. Howe was named the winner of the Miss Maine Softball award, presented to the state’s outstanding senior player. She batted .655 with 32 RBI and 15 extra-base hits. As a pitcher, she was 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and 104 strikeouts. Academically, Howe finished in the top 12 percent of her class. She continues her softball career at St. Joseph’s College.  

In a short statement, Howe thanked the hall of fame committee and her family. 

Established in 1969, the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame keeps alive the memories of more than 500 players, coaches and umpires

Some, such as committee member Jack Dawson, have been fortunate enough to have known them all. 

“I have been fortunate to have been part of this for a long time – I think I can honestly say I have either played with or met everybody who is on that roster in the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame,” Dawson said. “They are and have been incredible men and women … it has been quite an odyssey to go through all these years and see all these great people recognized.” 

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