July 5, 1906: John Wesley “Jack” Coombs, a former baseball star at Freeport High School and Colby College, debuts for the Philadelphia Athletics, pitching a seven-hit shutout to defeat the Washington Senators, 3-0.

Coombs plays 14 seasons in the major leagues, compiling a 158-110 pitching record with a career ERA of 2.78. He pitches for three teams – the Philadelphia Athletics, the Brooklyn Robins and the Detroit Tigers – and plays in three World Series, notching five wins and no losses. In the 1910 World Series, Coombs pitches three complete games in a span of six days, all victories.

Coombs was born in Iowa but moved to Kennebunk when he was 4 years old. He played baseball for Freeport High School and was a captain at Colby College, where he also played basketball and other sports.

After his major league career, he is a college coach, including at Duke for 24 years. The baseball fields at both Duke University and Colby College are named for Coombs.

At Colby, he was the first student to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1906. Coombs also received a Master of Arts degree in 1946 and had been accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for graduate work when he was signed to a baseball contract.

Legendary University of Maine baseball coach John Winkin plays for Coombs at Duke, and Coombs recommends Winkin for his first coaching position at Colby College, where Winkin coaches for 20 years before leaving for Orono.

Presented by:

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]


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