At age 89, Sylvanus “Junior” Tracy has enjoyed several happy milestones.
“I’ve married two lovely women, had a field named after me, got my stripe [in the U.S. Army] and wrote a book, ‘Downeast Baseball,’” he said.
On Sunday, his induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Portland was added to that list of milestones, and for Tracy, that was enough.
Others didn’t feel the same, and he was called back by Hall officials during the ceremony to accept another award. This one, a Certificate of Appreciation from the Citizens of Maine, was from Gov. Paul LePage in recognition of Tracy’s service during World World II in Europe as a private in the 67th Armored Division.
“It was one of those things. I think I shed a tear — a real honor,” said Tracy, who lives in Hermon.
“There was quite a crowd there, 300 or 400 people. They stood up and gave me an ovation,” he added.
In WWII, Tracy’s division, which used 105 Howitzers, was attached to Gen. George Patton’s Third Army and saw several battles, including the Battle of the Bulge.
“We chased Patton all around Europe,” he recalled.
And while Tracy appreciates the award and respect he was given Sunday night, the battles are something he doesn’t like to discuss.
“We all lost a lot of friends. I was one of the lucky ones,” he said.
After returning from the war, Tracy’s summers in Lamoine became immersed in baseball, and those years in the game were recognized by the Hall.
A Hancock native, he was a founder of the Lamoine A.C. semipro baseball team in 1949 and was a key factor in the team’s two-decade dominance in Eastern Maine town team baseball. He also was instrumental in organizing the Lamoine tournament, a statewide competition for elite teams in Maine. The baseball field in Lamoine is named after him.
The Hall inductees also attended a Portland Sea Dogs game on Sunday, and Tracy threw out the first pitch.
The other members inducted into the Hall’s 45th ceremony were Bob Anthoine, Gerry Berthiaume, Rod Choroszy, Jim Dumais, John Dumont, Don “Tink” Kilbreth, Mike MacDonald and Edward Paterson. Clarence Keegan and Dennis Sweetser were posthumously inducted. Eddie Woodin received the 2015 Sonny Noel President’s Award.
Anthoine of Cumberland was an All-Telegram League selection from Deering High School, played four years at the University of Maine and was head baseball coach at Greely High School for 14 seasons, winning two state championships.
Berthiaume of Berlin, Connecticut, was an All-NAIA outfielder for the University of Southern Maine in 1975 and served as general manager of the New Britain organization in the Eastern League for 15 years.
Choroszy of Old Orchard Beach was a two-time All-Telegram League selection at Thornton Academy, a valuable reliever for the University of Maine and was head coach for 16 years at South Portland High School, winning one state championship.
Dumais of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, was a dominant pitcher-hitter for the Yarmouth Townies in the Portland Twilight League during the 1960s and played two seasons in the Kansas City Athletics organization.
Dumont of Harpswell was an outstanding player for Brunswick High School and went on to set numerous batting records at the University of Maine. Dumont was the head baseball coach at Brunswick for eight years.
Keegan of Presque Isle was a standout center fielder for the University of Maine and was a member of the 1936 Olympic baseball team.
Kilbreth of Turner was a dominant pitcher-infielder for the semipro Turner Townies and the University of Connecticut, and he later played several years in the Hartford City League.
MacDonald pitched for nine seasons in professional baseball (five at the Triple-A level) in the Blue Jays, Giants and Red Sox organizations. He was the first native Mainer to play for the Portland Sea Dogs in 2012.
Paterson of Rumford enjoyed a 22-year career roaming center field in the storied Pine Tree League for the Rumford Pirates, and he was instrumental in the formation and support of area youth leagues.
Sweetser of Auburn devoted 40 years of service to the Auburn Suburban Little League. His Senior All-Star squads were consistent winners in state and regional competition with the 1979 team finishing third in the World Series.
Woodin of Scarborough was a catcher for coach John Winkin at Colby College and has been a generous benefactor of the Southern Maine Kids Travel Baseball League and numerous youth baseball programs.