Bob Stevenson loved sports, particularly baseball, and he wanted children to have the opportunity to share that love of sports with him.
He was devoted to making that possible as a volunteer baseball and basketball coach and umpire/referee before becoming the District 3 Little League baseball administrator in 1979 and holding that position for 37 years.
Bangor native Stevenson, whose career as a coach, official and administrator spanned 59 years, died following a brief illness on Dec. 27 at the age of 84.
“It is a great loss for everybody who had anything to do with Little League baseball or any baseball,” Dave Mansfield, a former long-time Little League coach in Bangor, said. “He was a good person. He cared about the kids. He and his wife, Yovanne, did a lot of great things.”
“He was a person who always wanted to make the game available to the kids,” Mike Brooker, who succeeded Stevenson as the District 3 administrator a year ago, said. Brooker also served as the tournament director for the Senior League World Series in Bangor.
“He coached for many, many years, and he umpired a little bit. Once his own kids aged out, he realized there was a need for people to do administrative duties so he continued to do that,” Brooker added. “He was always doing the things that needed to be done so that the administrative duties of running the district were being accomplished.
“He wanted to ensure everybody was treated fairly and equitably.”
“He brought District 3 a long way. He did everything he could for Little League baseball,” Chris Parker, the umpire-in-chief for District 3, said.
Stevenson was a 1951 Bangor High School graduate who served in the Air Force and then with the Air National Guard. He was a letter carrier for the U.S. Post Office for 30 years and, following his retirement, he spent 10 years working for American Airlines at Bangor International Airport.
Bowling and softball were two of his leisure passions.
“He was a very good softball player,” said Ron St. Pierre, a former Little League/Senior Little League coach, who oversees the upkeep of Bangor’s Mansfield Stadium.
“I have never seen anybody who enjoyed the game of baseball as much as Bob did,” St. Pierre said. “But I think he enjoyed the kids more than the game. It was all about the kids. He loved Little League. He thought it was one of the best things going.
“When we were able to bring the Senior League World Series here, he was beside himself. He was at just about every game,” St. Pierre added.
Parker played for Stevenson when he was on his Senior Little League all-star team.
“I enjoyed every bit of playing for him,” Parker said.
Parker said he had just moved to the Bangor area from the southern part of the state, so Stevenson didn’t know him nearly as well as the other players.
“But he still gave me a legitimate chance to start,” Parker said. “He wanted every kid to get a fair shot and to have a good time. He strived to bring out the best in all of his players.”
Jim Owens, also a former coach who helps with the maintenance of Mansfield Stadium and the Sawyer Arena in Bangor, said Stevenson always did “what was right for the kids” even if it meant budding heads with irate adults.
“He did an awful lot,” Owens added.
“He didn’t have a mean bone in his body,” Mansfield said. “He always tried to be nice to everybody.”
“He was a great guy. I never heard him raise his voice. And he had a dry sense-of-humor,” St. Pierre said.
Owens pointed out that the Stevensons, Bob and Yovanne, had to keep comprehensive files that listed where every Little League All-Star game was played over the years because when two teams are paired up against each other, the team that last hosted the game when the two had previously met must travel for the next game.
And the teams may not have faced each other in several years.
“They had an incredible amount of paperwork to do,” said St. Pierre, who called Stevenson the “the backbone of Little League baseball” for many, many years.
And Brooker pointed out that District 3 spans teams from Newport to Caribou.
“It’s the biggest district east of the Mississippi,” Brooker said.
Brooker said Stevenson “took me under his wing and mentored me to some extent” and gave him the opportunity to run the Senior League World Series.
“Technically, the World Series didn’t belong to Bangor West Side Little League or Mansfield Stadium, it was a Maine District 3 event. And, as the district administrator, he was ultimately the responsible party. Bob understood that I wanted to (run) it and he allowed me to do it,” Brooker said.
Stevenson’s friends said he was a devoted family man who loved watching his children and grandchildren in their many endeavors.
Grandsons Anthony Capuano and Kyle Stevenson played for Bangor in the Senior League World Series.
And when Stevenson and Yovanne, his wife of 64 years, weren’t following their children or grandchildren, they were at a ballpark somewhere in District 3 watching games at all levels.
“They were at a ballpark all the time,” Brooker said. “And Yovanne was there every step of the way. She did as much of the work as he did and he would certainly have been the first to acknowledge that.”
“They would be at one ballpark if not two on a nightly basis,” Parker said.
“Even last summer, when he was having difficulty getting around, he still would come over and watch a little,” Mansfield said.
Family and friends are invited to call from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Brookings-Smith Funeral Home in Bangor at 133 Center St. in Bangor. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, St. Mary’s Catholic Church at 768 Ohio St. in Bangor. Anyone wishing to honor Stevenson can do so by donating a gift in his memory to Maine District 3 Little League, P.O. Box 2274, Bangor, ME, 04402.
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