Penobscot Valley High School baseball coach Ryan Lincoln. Credit: Courtesy of Betsy Lee

Ryan Lincoln wakes up most mornings in Waltham, a small town in central Hancock County where he lives with his girlfriend, a teacher in nearby Ellsworth.

From there he makes the 75-mile drive to his native Baileyville in Washington County where, since Nov. 30, he has been the town’s parks and recreation director.

Then often comes an 80-mile leg to the central Penobscot County town of Howland, where he is the varsity baseball coach at Penobscot Valley High School.

A bus ride to and from a road game could ensue but, at the least, when a practice or home game concludes, he completes his 228-mile day with a 73-mile drive back home.

“It’s probably unreal the amount of miles I put on,” said Lincoln, who occasionally stays overnight with his parents in Baileyville. “Put it this way, I swap between two vehicles and try to keep it down a little bit [on each].”

The road-trip routine is designed to satisfy the sporting passions of 27-year-old Lincoln. The former athlete at Baileyville’s Woodland High School once pitched against the program he now coaches in a playoff game.

And it won’t stop when the high school baseball season ends, although the distances may not be quite as extreme. Lincoln recently became the state’s Senior American Legion baseball commissioner, and he’ll also coach the Bangor-based Quirk Motor City Senior Legion team this summer.

“He’s a baseball man, there’s no doubt about it,” said PVHS athletic administrator Gerald Hutchinson.

Lincoln’s ability to juggle his jobs has featured teamwork, both within the baseball program and among his employers.

“There were a lot of logistics that went into this to be able to make it work,” Lincoln said. “The travel sucks a little bit, yes, but we’re making it work.”

Lincoln typically works until early afternoon in Baileyville on Monday, Wednesday and Friday — days when Penobscot Valley plays most of its games — then spends longer days Down East on Tuesday and Thursday.

“I usually work on the weekends, too,” he said. “Instead of using Saturday and Sunday as my days off I have Monday and Wednesday as my days off and then work the weekends so I don’t have to do the Waltham-to-Woodland, Woodland-to-Howland and Howland back to Waltham route as much.”

Lincoln said the support of assistant coaches Nicholas Avery and Reese Carter, and Hutchinson’s work behind the scenes, have been pivotal to the Howlers’ 6-1 start this spring.

“So far his major concern has been that he has a Little League program starting up, so when I made up the baseball schedule I scheduled it around his work schedule so that when he had to be in Woodland he could be there,” Hutchinson said.

This is Lincoln’s fourth year as the head coach at PVHS, where he has guided the Howlers to a 41-18 record and three postseason appearances between 2017 and 2019.

A veteran PVHS team had championship aspirations last spring, but COVID-19’s arrival prompted the cancellation of the season.

Lincoln stepped down as head coach to become a volunteer assistant baseball coach at the University of Maine, only to have the lingering pandemic short-circuit those plans.

So when Hutchinson needed to find Lincoln’s replacement, he knew who to call.

“Ryan resigned last year to work down to UMaine but that fell through, so I called him about coming back,” Hutchinson said. “I had a few applications, but he’s so good at it, so we worked out a deal and it’s been working great.”

This spring the Howlers are less experienced but lead Class D North. Monday’s victory over Penquis Valley of Milo marked the midpoint of their schedule.

“I’ve given him all the leeway he needs. He has late practices, a lot of times he’ll go late or he’ll go early and get the heck back home,” Hutchinson said.

PVHS is led by senior left-hander Alex Tash, who anchors a pitching staff that includes junior Gabe Castonguay and sophomore Isaac Doore, both right-handers.

Tash, who plays shortstop or center field when not pitching, is one of the few varsity veterans on the roster, along with senior outfielder Bryce Seeley. Sophomore designated hitter and third baseman Cameron Zugelder adds offensive punch to the middle of the batting order.

The Howlers’ lone loss came on April 26 at home against Stearns of Millinocket, a game PVHS led 5-2 entering the sixth inning but lost 9-5 despite giving up just one earned run.

After the game, it didn’t matter that Lincoln had a long drive ahead of him.

“He got home real late that night because he sat at the field afterward going over the game. He’s that type of guy,” Hutchinson said. “We were all going home and he was still on the field.

“But he’s been here a few years now and I know he has a lot of connections. I think if he got stuck, he’d have a place to stay up here with no problem.”

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...