ORONO — A familiar face threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the University of Maine’s America East baseball tournament opener against Stony Brook on Wednesday morning.
Former UMaine catcher and assistant coach Carl “Stump” Merrill, who had a 38-year career in the New York Yankees organization including 275 games as the manager of the Yankees, threw a one-hopper to the plate.
“I haven’t thrown a ball in five years,” explained a grinning Merrill, who helped lead the Black Bears to the 1964 College World Series.
The 74-year-old Merrill, who lives in Harpswell, retired four years ago. He had served as the special assistant to the general manager since 2005.
Merrill compiled a 120-155 record with the Yankees in 1990 and 1991. He managed at all levels of minor league ball and won several championships.
The 1966 UMaine graduate said Mahaney Diamond is a far cry from what he played on during his time in Orono.
“We didn’t have a fence,” said Merrill. “The facility is very, very much improved. They have lights and (artificial) turf.”
It appears as though the Yankees and the Red Sox are going to have quite a duel for the American League East title as they currently boast the best two records in baseball.
The Red Sox are 34-15 and the Yankees are 31-15 after Wednesday’s games, leaving Boston in first place.
Merrill said the rivalry and having the two teams in the hunt for a World Series championship is good for baseball.
Stackpole, Mannix handling tourney broadcasts
Bryan Stackpole, former 92.9 The Ticket morning co-sports anchor along with Dale Duff, is handling the play-by-play for nine America East tournament games on ESPN Plus (Internet) with Taylor Mannix serving as his color analyst.
WVII Channel 7-WFVX Fox 22 sports director Jon Alba will handle the play-by-play for one game and Stackpole will slide into the color analyst chair.
Alba will be the sideline reporter for the championship game with Stackpole and Mannix handling the play-by-play and color, respectively.
Stackpole has rarely handled this many games, as contests were scheduled for 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the first three days. He has done multigames before during the high school basketball tournaments.
“I get by with caffeine, sporadic food and bathroom breaks. Bathroom breaks are key,” Stackpole, an Ellsworth native, said.
He said the difference between the basketball tournament games and the America East tournament is you have time off between basketball tournament games.
Mannix, a Portland native and the younger brother of longtime sportscaster Jeff Mannix, just graduated from the UMaine.
Jeff Mannix and Taylor Mannix are the sons of veteran News Center Maine meteorologist Kevin Mannix.
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