Ed Flaherty speaks as the USM baseball field is dedicated in his name during a pregame ceremony in 2017. File photo by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

There were times early in Ed Flaherty’s career as a college baseball coach when he could have left his home state of Maine and moved to a Division I program.

“I’m glad I didn’t,” he said.

Flaherty, 70, announced Friday that he will be leaving the coaching ranks after he finishes his 39th season in what has become an illustrious career at the University of Southern Maine. The Portland native, a proud graduate of Deering High and the University of Maine, led USM to NCAA Division III national titles in 1991 and 1997, eight College World Series appearances, and over 1,100 wins.

“I am proud. Yeah,” Flaherty said. “I look back and I’m just proud of the kids. We’ve had 40 All-Americans and countless professionals at a Division III program that ended up top 20 in the country at least 20 times.”

St. Joseph’s College baseball coach Will Sanborn has competed against Flaherty for the last 32 seasons.

“Ed is probably one of a handful of people who you can say is one of Maine’s greatest coaches in any sport,” Sanborn said.


For Thornton Academy baseball coach Jason Lariviere, a two-time All-American at USM (1994, 1995), Flaherty’s status is more than the stuff of local legend.

“I think it goes outside of Maine. He’s probably one of the greatest Division III coaches that’s ever been around. Certainly one of the best in Maine, if not the best.”

USM announced it will begin a national search for Flaherty’s replacement.

Flaherty said he made the decision to retire when USM was returning from its annual southern trip to start the season. He initially intended to wait until the end of the season to make the announcement.

“But then I started talking to our (human resources) people and they were not going to get another coach hired until September, and that whole recruiting season is going to be gone,” Flaherty said. “Now they can get the hiring process started and get somebody in by the middle of the summer, the beginning of the summer.”

Insuring the program remains strong is important to Flaherty. USM did not have a losing season in Flaherty’s first 37 years (save for a 0-1 mark in COVID-shortened 2020) but was 18-21 last season and is currently 7-15.


“I don’t want it to drop off, because I’ve watched too many coaches who go too long. It’s time to keep this program going at the top of the Little East Conference, at the top of the country,” Flaherty said. “It needs a new voice. And I get it.”

He said recently he’s missed on recruiting some of the top in-state talent that has long been the lifeblood of his program.

“They know you’re 70 and you’re going to be 75 when they’re seniors, and I was losing kids,” Flaherty said, adding, “And you’ve got grandkids everywhere that you’re not seeing enough.”

University of Southern Maine baseball coach Ed Flaherty talks to his team after earning his 1,000th career win in 2018. On Friday, Flaherty announced he will retire at the end of this season. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Flaherty informed his players Friday morning. “It was emotional. Hard. Hard for me. Because my greatest love of what I do is being with those kids from 18 to 22. I get close to them and, you know, it’s emotional. And it was emotional for the kids. They just need another guy.”

Soon after telling USM’s current players of his decision, Flaherty sent out group texts to “probably most of the alumni that he could,” said Sam Dexter of Oakland and Messalonskee High, a two-time All-American at USM (2015-16). “He wanted to let us know before it became public. Which I thought was first class of him to do.”

Dexter, about to begin his ninth season of professional baseball and fifth with the Fargo-Morehead RedHawks of the independent American Association, said the announcement left him with mixed emotions.


“I can’t really imagine USM baseball without Coach Flaherty being at the helm, but at the same time, going to USM was one of the best decisions of my life and playing for him was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” said Dexter, a shortstop who in 2015 became Flaherty’s second NCAA Division III Player of the Year, two years after outfielder Tucker White won the award.

Flaherty’s “burning passion for baseball,” and ability to get the most out of his players were two key traits, Dexter said. Just as important were the meetings that weren’t focused on baseball.

“We were talking about being a great father, a great leader, and a great guy, and some of those memories stick with me the most,” Dexter said.

When Lariviere got the text from Flaherty, he said he began to reflect on Flaherty’s impact.

“I owe a lot to him and his staff,” said Lariviere, who runs the Southern Maine River Rats club baseball program. “When I came from Biddeford, honestly, I would say I was a good athlete but I wasn’t a good baseball player. His knowledge and his staff and the way they ran things, the expectations, he truly turned me into a baseball player, and if that hadn’t happened, my life would have been very different.

“I was an All-American two years and drafted by the (St. Louis) Cardinals. Played five years of professional baseball, and baseball is still a big part of my life. … He got the most out of you, so I feel very fortunate. My life would be a little different. It’s that big, and I know he’s done that with a lot of players.”


Flaherty will be honored April 27 with a ceremony at USM’s Ed Flaherty Field (it was renamed in 2017) between games of a Little East Conference doubleheader against VTSU-Castleton (noon start). Flaherty’s former players, assistant coaches and colleagues are invited.

Flaherty’s all-time record is 1,123-526. He’s had 19 30-plus win seasons, most recently in 2021 (34-11) when the Huskies made their 26th NCAA tournament appearance under Flaherty, including a run of 15 straight from 1987-2001.

USM went 23-14 in 1986, Flaherty’s first season. His first 30-win season came in 1989. Soon, he had Division I suitors.

“There were a couple of times I could have gone. I’m glad I didn’t,” Flaherty said. “I had a chance to leave in 1990. Then we won (the national championship) in 1991 and built on it from there.”

Flaherty said his family’s deep connection to the greater Portland area made it much easier to stay at USM.

“My dad and mom lived not a quarter-mile from us. My whole family is around. My kids grew up in a neighborhood in Portland that was an old-time vintage neighborhood and they grew up around the university,” Flaherty said. “All what you dream of if you’re a parent, and it was a great decision not to leave.”


Flaherty and his wife Deborah, who were married in July of 1983, raised three children. Each, like their father and his father, attended Deering High. Daughter Regina Booth, who lives locally, was “maybe the best athlete on the team,” Ed Flaherty said. Sons Ryan and Regan both played Division I college baseball, Ryan at Vanderbilt and Regan at Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky. Ryan Flaherty went on to play eight seasons in the major leagues and is now the bench coach for the Chicago Cubs. Regan lives in Nashville, working as a wealth management advisor for professional athletes.

As a player, Ed Flaherty was an All-American for John Winkin at the University of Maine in 1975, the same year he helped the United States win a silver medal (losing to Cuba) in the Pan American Games. Future Baseball Hall of Famer Paul Molitor was a Pan Am Games roommate.

Sanborn said he first met Flaherty when Flaherty was the Deering High coach and Sanborn was a player at Bonny Eagle.

“Any time you talk to anyone about Eddie Flaherty, what you hear is he was such a competitor,” Sanborn said. “Any day you go to play Ed Flaherty, you better have your highest compete level ready.

“But before and after, he’s always a real gentleman. He’s a good friend, certainly a mentor and a good friend,” Sanborn said. “I didn’t beat him very often, but whenever I did, I always felt pretty damn fortunate.”

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