OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine — Perhaps the only hint of disappointment Ryan Rebar experienced last Friday evening when he accepted the Dr. John W. Winkin “Mr. Baseball” Award symbolic of the state’s top high school senior baseball player was that he wasn’t able to meet the honor’s namesake.
That issue will be rectified Monday evening, when the Foxcroft Academy pitcher and shortstop is expected to meet the legendary college coach when the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League holds “John Winkin Day” festivities just before its 7 p.m. game against the Pittsfield (Mass.) Suns at The Ballpark.
“When we first heard that John was going to be inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame, several of us thought it would be great to have a send-off for him,” said Jerome Plante, the former Old Orchard Beach town manager who now serves as chairman of the town’s parks commission that operates and maintains The Ballpark.
Plante subsequently saw a Bangor Daily News account of Rebar’s selection as the state’s Mr. Baseball and the fact that he had not yet met Winkin and began making phone calls.
“When I read that Ryan had not met coach Winkin, it seemed like a natural to see if we could make that happen,” said Plante.
Winkin began his coaching career in 1954 at Colby College in Waterville, where he spent 20 years and was named the 1965 National Coach of the Year.
He then moved on in 1975 to the University of Maine, where his teams won 642 games over 22 seasons and made six trips to the College World Series to go with 11 appearances in NCAA regional tournaments.
Twice the Black Bears finished third in the CWS under Winkin, who also was named New England Division I Coach of the Year in 1975 and Northeast Region Division I Coach of the Year in 1976, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1991 while at UMaine.
Winkin later came out of retirement to coach baseball at Husson University in Bangor and on March 12, 2006, recorded his 1,000th career coaching victory.
Winkin, who already has been inducted into 11 different halls of fame, finished with a career coaching record of 1,043-706-16.
He also was active in the growth of The Ballpark during the 1980s, according to Plante, teaming with former University of Miami baseball coach Ron Fraser to have the Hurricanes and Black Bears play two games at the facility in May 1986.
Winkin will be accompanied to Monday night’s event by his son David, who served as an intern in the OOB town office under Plante while a student at the University of Maine.
Rebar was a four-year varsity player at Foxcroft, leading coach Mark Chevalier’s Ponies to a berth in the Eastern Maine Class C championship game in 2011 and to the Eastern Maine Class B title in 2012.
This spring Rebar went 6-1 on the mound with a 1.02 earned run average in 41 innings while batting .339 with nine doubles, 11 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in helping the Ponies compile a 15-3 record and advance to the Eastern B semifinals.
Foxcroft compiled a 63-12 overall record during Rebar’s four seasons with the Ponies, with the right-hander compiling an 18-3 career pitching record.
Rebar plans to play both baseball and football at Husson University in the fall.
Rebar, several family members and Foxcroft Academy baseball coach Mark Chevalier will be among those attending Monday’s pregame ceremony honoring Winkin.
“I know coach Winkin is very well known in Maine and New England for taking Maine to six appearances in the College World Series,” said Rebar. “Just to be able to go down to Old Orchard Beach and meet him will be awesome, and to be able to share this with my family makes it even more special.
“We’ll be taking a lot of pictures.”
Others who will participate in the pregame ceremony include several of Winkin’s former players, among them one-time UMaine standouts Ed Flaherty, now head coach at the University of Southern Maine, and current Colby College baseball coach Dale Plummer, and Ed Phillips, a former player under Winkin at Colby who went on to pitch in the major leagues.
The Futures Collegiate Baseball League is a nine-team league designed to enable current and future college players from New England and New England schools the chance to play with and against similar prospects from around the country.