ELLSWORTH, Maine — Pat Maguire arrived at the Ellsworth High School baseball field on Sunday morning with modest expectations.
The local businessman, who has been active in promoting youth baseball in the city, now was attempting to bring back an American Legion baseball program to Hancock County after a one-year absence.
But Maguire admittedly was uncertain about how the opportunity to rejoin the Zone 1 ranks would be embraced by high school-age players from area communities.
“If I had to guess I would have hoped to get about 12 kids to show up so then I could go out and find a few more later,” he said.
Maguire and others involved in restoring the team known as the Acadians to the Legion circuit need not worry about any additional recruiting efforts.
Twenty-six players turned out for the tryout session, well in excess of the maximum 18 players on each Legion team roster. That means all systems are go for the Acadians to rejoin the seven other clubs in the state’s northernmost American Legion baseball division — Bangor, Brewer, Calais, Hampden, Lincoln Lumber, Motor City of Bangor and Penquis of Dover-Foxcroft.
“I was very pleased, shocked in fact, with the number of kids who came out,” said Maguire, the team’s general manager.
The candidates who turned out Sunday were primarily from George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, Ellsworth High School and Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor, along with one player from Deer Isle-Stonington and one player who attends John Bapst of Bangor.
Players from Sumner of East Sullivan and Narraguagus of Harrington also are eligible to play for the Acadians.
The team, originally known as the Trenton Acadians, was started by Dennis Damon and Jack Scott during the late-1970s, joining Orono-Old Town and Bangor as the state’s northernmost Legion baseball programs in a zone that at the time extended south to Augusta.
The team most recently played its home games at George Stevens Academy under coaches Dan Kane and Bill Gray before decreasing player participation — particularly from the largest schools in the Acadians’ drawing area, Ellsworth and MDI — prompted organizers not to field a team last summer.
In 2010 the Acadians had a roster of 17 players, but while the team started with 16 players in 2011 that number gradually dwindled to the point where the team had barely enough players to finish its regular-season schedule.
“Dan Kane did everything possible last year to keep it going,” said Zone 1 commissioner Dave Paul. “But in the end they didn’t want to show up for a game with just 10 or 12 kids and not be able to honor their schedule.”
Maguire’s involvement began last summer when he talked with Kane during batting practice before a youth league playoff game, and that conversation led to his effort to resurrect the program.
Serving as head coach of the team this summer will be Kyle McKim, a former three-sport athlete at MDI who recently completed his sophomore year at the University of New Hampshire, where he is studying athletic administration.
The Acadians are expected to play home games at both George Stevens Academy and MDI.
The 2013 American Legion Zone 1 schedule calls for each team to play 21 regular-season games with seven-inning contests on Monday and Friday evenings and nine-inning games on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons.
The season is scheduled to begin Sunday, June 16, with a four-game day involving all eight Zone 1 teams at Husson University in Bangor. Games are scheduled for 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. that day.