AUBURN — They excelled in plying football, basketball, baseball and hockey. They coached those and several other sports. They were at times stellar athletes, learning from some of the best coaches in Maine history. At others, they were those coaches, coaxing greatness from others.
After a ceremony Sunday, they are all hall-of-famers.
Ray Beaudoin, Tim Jordan, Barry Peaco and Don White entered the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday as permanent inductees, the 28th class of athletes and coaches to be so honored since the hall’s inception.
“When this all first started, the fear was that we’d eventually run out of qualified individuals to honor,” general committee chairman Brad Sloat, himself a 2003 inductee, said Sunday. “In fact, the opposite has proven true, and this year’s class is no exception.”
Introduced in alphabetical order at the organization’s annual banquet at Lost Valley Lodge, Beaudoin was the first to take center stage. A standout hockey player in the 1950s and 60s, Beaudoin was one of the top scoring forwards of his generation.
“All you need to know about Ray Beaudoin as a hockey player can be summed up in one sentence,” presenter Bob Stone said. “In his hockey career, he scored 34 hat tricks.”
Beaudoin played alongside other historically recognized skaters of his era, including Ronnie St. Onge, Bob Labbe and Dick Lafrance. After helping St. Dom’s to state championships in hockey and tennis, and after four years of military service, Beaudoin returned to the Lewiston/Auburn area to continue his athletic career, suiting up for Country Kitchen and the L/A Twins. He was an AHA All-American while playing for the Twins.
“That was definitely the biggest thrill of my hockey career,” Beaudoin said. “It had always been a goal of mine to achieve that level.”
Jordan’s friend and former classmate, Ernie Gagne, helped introduce the former Edward Little standout.
“I remember reading a newspaper on the morning after our senior banquet, and there, splashed on the sports page, was a picture of my friend, Tim Jordan,” Gagne said. “The headline read something like, ‘EL star selected in the Major League Baseball Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers.’ My first thought was, ‘That son of a gun, never told anyone.’ Come to find out, he didn’t know, either.”
Jordan smirked at the end of the table as Gagne recalled the tale — all true. As unassuming as star athletes come, Jordan was about to enroll at CMVTI (now Central Maine Community College), while many other teammates were off to try their luck at college athletics at various Division I and Division III schools.
“After I got drafted by the Brewers, (sports) became serious business,” Jordan said. “Practice. Drills. Practice. Conditioning. Practice. Bus rides. Practice. Curfews. And more practice. But it was still a game, and I loved to play.”
Following the 1983 season, after playing for the Brewers’ and New York Yankees’ organizations, Jordan left the game, waived by the Yankees after a nagging injury.
“I look back now and realize, much of what I learned about playing the game carried over into everyday life,” Jordan said. “Learning how to get along and compromise with many different personalities, picking up teammates spirits when they were struggling … lots of hard work, sacrifice, dedication and perseverance. I was taught you can’t be a winner, until you learn how to lose.”
Peaco reflected fondly on memories of playing basketball and baseball, both in high school and in college. He spoke of playing for fellow hall-of-famer Fern Masse, and remembered being one of the initial hires at Hoop Camp, founded in part by Masse.
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘Great, I’ll get to spend a whole summer playing basketball, and getting paid for it,” Peaco said with a wry smile. “When I got there, they handed me a rake and asked me to start picking up all the pine needles, to get it ready. I don’t think I put down the rake all summer.”
It wasn’t his ability to rake that earned Peaco induction, however. Multitasking, on the other hand, was. A two-sport athlete at UMaine-Farmington, Peaco set scoring records in basktball and pitching records in baseball, many of which are still among the top 10 in their respective sports today.
Inducted as much for his playing career as for his coaching, White is the fourth member of his family to be so honored, joining his uncle Bud, father John W. and brother John F. in the Auburn-Lewiston hall.
Brother John was on hand to introduce Don, and teared up as he read statements from a handful of athletes Don had coached, particularly in gymnastics, over the years.
“One former athlete said, ‘He had high expectations, but they weren’t unreasonable,'” John White said. “Another said, ‘I had complete trust and confidence in him.’ It is my pleasure, and privilege, to introduce the coach who put Maine gymnastics on the national map, my brother.”
In accepting the honor, Don White told tales of athletic greatness — feats performed by those around him.
“When I think of great athletes, I certainly don’t think of myself,” he said. “I think of people like my brother.”
In addition to his football prowess and coaching career, perhaps Don White’s greatest legacy in the Lewiston-Auburn area is Andy Valley Gymnastics, which he founded in 1976.
Also honored Sunday were members of the 1976 Lewiston High School state championship ice hockey team as part of the A-L Sports Hall of Fame’s “Flashback to Fame” award, A-L Sports Hall of Fame co-founder Ralph Tuttle with the Earl B. Austin Jr. Award for his contributions to the area sports scene, and John “Jackie” Fisher with the A-L Sports Hall of Fame’s Pioneer Award.
The organization also handed out Chamber President’s Awards to area high school and college athletes and coaches who have completed their four-year athletic careers at their respective schools. Honored this year were coaches Don Boucher (St. Dom’s girls’ hockey), Lynette Morency (Lewiston cheering) and Anita Murphy (Lewiston girls’ tennis); collegians Troy Barnies (Maine), Brian Ellis (Bates), Mallory Long (UNE), Brittane Michaud (Norwich) and Chris Murtagh (Bates); high schoolers Jessica Bowen (Lewiston), Sam Cloutier (Lewiston), Cody Dussault (Lewiston), Sophia Goulet (St. Dom’s), Ashten Hackett (EL), James Jackson (EL), Bo Leary (EL), Becca Lessard (Lewiston), Allison Lewandowski (St. Dom’s), Timmy Mains (EL), Scott Ouellette (Lewiston), Alex Parker (St. Dom’s), Cam Poussard (Lewiston), Jeremy Theriault (EL) and Ben Wigant (Lewiston).