South Portland High School’s Dick Carmichael was a New England All-Star in 1947. South Portland Historical Society photo

With the effects of the pandemic going on all around us, we are still busy at the South Portland Historical Society with our work of preserving local history. We always have research projects going on; this includes our continuing research related to a new seasonal exhibit at the museum.

This year’s theme will be the history of baseball in America, as told through the stories of South Portland’s past. Of course, we don’t know exactly when the museum will be opening at the moment. We’re all in this together and will have to wait to hear when it’s safe to open.

While there may be some names that immediately pop to mind when thinking about baseball and South Portland (some of our major league players like Billy Swift, Jim Beattie and Charlie Furbush), there are many other South Portlanders out there who made it to the minor and major leagues.

Let’s take a look at one of those people who still lives in South Portland today, Dick Carmichael. I met with Dick at the end of January to hear about his experiences. He graciously took the time to answer my questions so that we can document his attempt to break into the big leagues.

Born in Monticello, Maine, in 1931, Dick moved to South Portland with his family when he was 9 years old. He attended Lincoln School through eighth grade and then went to South Portland High School. Dick first started playing baseball in his freshman year at South Portland High School in 1946.

In his first season pitching, he went 0-6 for the season, but he picked up skills quickly and, in his sophomore year, posted 8 wins and no losses. In the summer after his sophomore year, at the age of 16, he was selected to play with the All-New England team “against the World” and he pitched in front of a crowd of 35,000.

Chosen MVP for the All-New England team, Dick earned the prize of traveling with the Boston Braves on their western tour for two weeks. They traveled to places like Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Brooklyn and he would warm-up with the team.

While in St. Louis, Dick was out in the field shagging flies during batting practice when he was noticed by Stan Musial. Musial walked up to Dick, asked him how old he was, and said, “You keep this up and you’ll be back here in a couple of years.”

Back at South Portland High for his junior year, he went 12-0 for the season and was selected for the All-Telegram League. In the summer after his junior year, in 1948, he played for a short time with the South Portland Merchants in the Portland Twilight League; then the Boston Braves made arrangements for Dick to play with a semi-pro team in Dedham, Massachusetts, for the rest of the summer.

In his senior year at South Portland High, he was co-captain of the baseball team, recorded 12 wins and only 1 loss, and was again selected to the All-Telegram League. After graduation in 1949, he was approached by seven different major league teams. He gave serious consideration to the New York Yankees, but they wanted him as a left fielder, so he ended up signing with the Boston Braves as a pitcher (the predecessor of the Atlanta Braves).

He played in six seasons with the Braves’ minor league affiliates:

– 1949 – Pawtucket Slaters (Class B)

– 1950 – Hartford Chiefs (Class A)

– 1950 – Denver Bears (Class A)

– 1950 – Evansville Braves (Class B)

– 1950 – Eau Claire Bears (Class C)

– 1951 – Hagerstown Braves (Class B)

– 1952 – Hartford Chiefs (Class A)

Carmichael was drafted in 1952 during the Korean War. He served in the infantry in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1952 to 1954. Upon his return, he went back to playing ball with the Braves organization, although the Major League team had moved to Milwaukee.

– 1954 – Toledo Sox (AAA)

– 1954 – Jacksonville Braves (A)

– 1955 – Atlanta Crackers* (AA) – *exhibition games in March

– 1955 – Jacksonville Braves (A) – assigned to Jax on April 4, 1955

He played in 33 games in the 1955 season and then retired from baseball.

Of his time in baseball, Dick said that he got a chance to play with Hank Aaron, pitch against Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, and that overall, it was an amazing experience. After leaving baseball, Dick returned to South Portland and founded Acme Body Shop on Lincoln Street with his brother, Clair Carmichael, and their friend Kay Adams. Dick was the salesman, Clair did the paint work, and Kay did the body work. Dick owned that business for 25 years before retiring.

Dick Carmichael was inducted in the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.

Do you have local memorabilia or photographs to share that show scenes from around South Portland in earlier years? Please contact South Portland Historical Society at 55 Bug Light Park, South Portland, ME 04106, by phone at 207-767-7299, or by email at [email protected] Thank you.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of the South Portland Historical Society.

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