Lessons in Bert Roberge’s life keep repeating themselves.
“You don’t make it to the big leagues by yourself,” said Roberge, a former Major League Baseball pitcher who lives in Auburn.
Apparently, you don’t fly an American flag over a Little League baseball diamond alone either.
Roberge’s mother, Therese Roberge, watched her son play ball next door in Pulsifer Field in New Auburn. She watched her three other sons play and her husband coach, too.
“My kids never got in trouble. They were always playing ball,” the 87-year-old mother of four said.
Bert Roberge agreed. “That’s what I did, from sunup to sundown,” he said.
Even after her boys were gone, Therese Roberge still watched the ballgames from the front porch of the house on Broad Street, where she’s lived since she was a child, every summer evening.
“She sits over there every night,” Dori-Anne Tarr, president of the New Auburn Little League, said.
Roberge’s husband, Roland, watched each evening as well — at least until the Red Sox threw out the first pitch on television.
“He liked the news and the Red Sox, and I like my porch to watch the ballgames,” said Roberge, who can remember when Pulsifer Field was just a field.
Roland Roberge died on March 4 and a U.S. flag was draped over the Navy veteran’s casket.
Naturally, Tarr and the volunteers who run NALL sent a bat and ball with flowers.
A few months later, Tarr was working at the field’s snack shack when she got word that Therese Roberge wanted to see her. Tarr walked pass the T-ball field and into Roberge’s kitchen. Roberge handed her the folded flag that covered her husband’s casket. It was to be flown over Pulsifer Park.
“She had me in tears,” Tarr said.
The Roberge family got together and decided the flag should fly in dad’s memory.
“It seemed to be the appropriate thing to do,” Bert Roberge said.
“When they gave me my husband’s flag, I said it’s not going in the closet,” Therese Roberge said.
That was the good news. The bad news was the flag was too big. “We have a problem,” Tarr told Roberge.
The almost-10-foot-wide flag was so much larger than the flag it was about to replace it touched the flagpole next to it. That is a no-no. “There are all these rules that I never knew about,” Tarr said about flying a flag.
Tarr started searching for a solution so that the league could fly the flag within sight of Roberge’s porch.
A new flagpole would cost $1,100 and another $500 for installation, much more than the league could afford.
“That’s a lot of kids at $25 a pop,” Tarr said, referring to the fee New Auburn Little League charges kids each season to play ball.
This is where Bert Roberge’s lesson about not doing anything by yourself comes into play.
Money for the flagpole was donated by the Auburn Firefighters Children’s Fund and Dennis Morgan, owner of the Sign Store and Flag Center waived the installation fee.
“It was for a good cause,” Morgan said. “Kids need to a good place to go, and a nice flagpole goes with that.”
“It was a big group effort. It took a lot of people to make it work,” Tarr said.
Family members, firefighters and NALL volunteers were present during a dedication ceremony earlier this summer. A plaque was placed at base of the flagpole in memory of Roland Roberge.
“We did not expect this. We just wanted to donate the flag. It is so nice. A big flag flying up in the air. Much better than sitting in the closet,” said Roberge, who was married to Roland for 64 years. “He would be very happy if he saw all this.”
“The Roberge family has some baseball history of their own and to have lived where they do for as long as they have and to watch our league play ball every single night is just really awesome,” Tarr said. “I love to look over there and see Mrs. Roberge still on that porch every night.”
Editor’s note: Rita Roberge Beaulieu, Therese Roberge’s daughter, also played softball at Pulsifer Field.