PORTLAND — When Arthur ”Arthie” Taylor was on the diamond, he often dominated the action. His exploits and competitive nature were honored when he was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

The Rumford native proved to be the epitome of what a town team baseball meant to the respective communities when he was an outstanding catcher during the hey-day of the Pine Tree League. Taylor was one of 10 inducted during the 44th MBHOF ceremonies  at the Holiday Inn by the Bay.

Among those inducted wee current University of Maine baseball coach Paul Kostacopoulas; Boston Red Sox third-base coach Brian Butterfield and former major league pitcher Matt Kinney of Bangor.

Also recognized was the 1964 University of Maine at Orono baseball team which won three games in the College World Series. Charlie Newell of Bethel was a pitcher on the team coached by Jack Butterfield and assistant Woody Carvelle. The final person cut from the Black Bears that season was Bob Russell of Mexico.

Taylor, who was the final inductee to speak, drew the most reception for his witty one liners before 36 family members and friends. He lauded umpires Colby Brown and Mike Haley, along with the support of wife Cathy as the couple will be celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary.

Taylor was an excellent two-way player because he was a pure hitter who dispersed the baseball to every part of the field and was equally solid defensively.

”Playing baseball in the Pine Tree League all those years was the best time in my baseball career,” said Taylor, who played for Rumford teams and the Dixfield Dixies in the 1950s and 1960s. ”There were many good teams in that league and you could not let up on no matter who you put in the game.”

Taylor’s physical abilities became well known and he was always recruited whenever area teams needed players for the tournaments. The Yankee American Baseball Congress held its tournament at Pettingill Park in Auburn, where the winner would go to Battle Creek, Mich. Taylor was tabbed by South Paris, Chi Liv, the Turner Townies and Winthrop to compete in the Midwest.

”Artie was one of the best ball players to ever come out of the River Valley,” said MBHOF member Bitsy Ionta, who was a victim of Taylor’s home run. ”Every one was aware when Artie was coming batting because he could hit the ball at anytime and made things happen. When he was behind the plate, he saw the entire field and moved people on defense to benefit his team’s success.”

Taylor’s abilities were recognized in the fourth grade when he started going down to Hosmer Field to watch the Rumford Red Skins town team. Before long, he was catching every practice and experienced fastball pitching, curveballs and sliders.

”After the live game conditions, my hands were so swollen,” Taylor said. ”My grandmother would soak my hands in hot water and Epsom salts. She would always ask me, ‘Why do you let those men hurt you like that?’ Little did she know that baseball was already in my blood.”

When Taylor was an eighth grader, the varsity coach Ray Baum at Stevens High School made arrangements so he could get out of school early to practice with the team.

”I, again, would catch all of the batting practice,”Taylor said. ”But coach Baum would also make me participate in all of the team drills.”

The following summer, Taylor played American Legion baseball, with Bobby Downs, Dick Batherson and Bobby Legere. That summer, the Bethel team was unbeaten during the regular season and played in the Legion tournament at Togus; losing in the championship game.

As a freshman, Taylor made the varsity team and pulled a Lou Gerig-type Wally Pipp move in the first game against Berlin, N.H. The senior catcher broke two fingers on a foul tip and coach Baum inserted Taylor who would start the next four years. Between 1953-56, Stevens won two league titles and the Class A state championship in 1954.

Taylor would eventually become a player/coach for the Rumford PTL entry before retiring from action. The passion for the game continued and Taylor became involved with Little League and also coached Pony League and Legion.

”Artie had an intensity for baseball and he played that way,” said Harris Elliot, who is a member of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame. ”When Artie’s team had an off-night, he would go watch other games, in order to scout players and understand their tendencies. He had a consummate love for the game of baseball.”


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