Reservation deadline is April 29

LEWISTON — The Franco-American Heritage Center will hold its next French language luncheon, known as La Rencontre, on Friday, May 3, beginning at 11:30.

Following the meal, which will consist of a choice between a lobster roll or a chicken salad roll, along with macaroni salad, chips, pickles and a cookie for dessert, Auburn resident and baritone Larry Gowell will perform for patrons in the Franco Center’s Performance Hall.

He will be accompanied on at least one song by chanteuse Joelle Morris, a native of France currently residing in Winthrop who, like Gowell, has become a Franco Center favorite.

Gowell will also be trailed by a camera crew from “Bill Green’s Maine,” a program that airs weekly on WCSH-TV. Producers of the program became interested in telling the unique story of Gowell’s unusual place in major league baseball history.

While Gowell’s career as a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees lasted only three games at the very end of the 1972 season (his career record was 0-1 with an earned run average of 1.29), Gowell was the last starting pitcher in the American League to ever get a hit during the regular season before the designated hitter rule was enacted at the start of the 1973 season.

Since the advent of the designated hitter, pitchers — who are usually weak hitters — no longer have to take a turn at bat, as they still must in the National League.

The ball that Gowell hit for a double off Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jim Lonborg on the final day of the 1972 season resides in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Everyone is invited to attend La Rencontre, but reservations must be made in advance by calling the Franco Center at 783-1585 no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, April 29. The cost to attend is $7, which includes the meal and the entertainment.

Patrons are encouraged to speak only French during the meal in Heritage Hall, which is accessed on the Oxford Street side of the building. In the spirit of fun, and as a way to remind patrons of the language discrimination that French speakers once faced in Maine, persons overheard speaking English may be fined a quarter for doing so or they may “buy” the right to openly speak in English for $1.


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