AUBURN — Game officials are happy to go unnoticed.

That’s always how Dan Deshaies has approached a game, whether umpiring a baseball game, or officiating a basketball game, he has preferred to remain professional but anonymous.

Last month’s announcement that Deshaies is among this year’s class being inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame made things a little complicated on that front for the Livermore Falls native and current athletic director at Edward Little.

“I was kind of like, in shock,” Deshaies said. “Being an umpire, you really don’t ever expect anything like that. With all the great baseball minds and bodies in the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, I never expected it.”

Deshaies will be inducted Sunday with eight others at the 46th annual Maine Baseball Hall of Fame banquet. A month after first learning of his induction, Deshaies is honored, but still feels awkward about the recognition.

 “You do your games and try to stay out of trouble,” he said. “It’s a humbling thing for any sports official to be selected by a group of people.”

Deshaies has been involved in officiating games for decades. He’s made his mark from the local level, and all the way to the Major Leagues, a distinguished career for someone who had never umpired before taking a chance fresh out of college. Sometimes, Deshaies himself marvels at where umpiring has taken him.

“It’s the ninth inning and Bruce Sutter is coming in,” Deshaies recalled, telling the story of an exhibition Major League Baseball game he umpired. “He just signed a 40-million dollar contract with Atlanta. Rick Cerone is catching and here’s this little guy from Livermore Falls (behind the plate). Cerone had just come off winning the World Series with the Yankees and had signed with the Braves.”

After graduating from Livermore Falls High School and the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Deshaies was going to take the year off before using his degree in physical education.

But taking time off wasn’t exactly his style. So he enrolled in the Harry Wendelstedt Umpiring School in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“I’d never umpired, but I thought maybe I’d learn something about umpiring,” he said. “I thought maybe I’d do some high school games and maybe some college baseball.”

After completing the course, he was among 24 participants selected to attend an advanced camp. There, he was one of 12 umpires given opportunity in the minor leagues.

“The top 12 out of that were given a job in the minors,” Deshaies said. “I was luckily one of those 12. I did it. I don’t know how because I’d never umpired before.”

His first assignment was at the ‘A’ level in the New York-Penn League. Deshaies broke into the minors the same year Don Mattingly was a rookie at Oneonta. Both spent five years in the minors together, and they became good friends.

“I fell in love with it,” Deshaies said. “My first game was in Jamestown, New York. You go out to do the first game of the year and it’s sold out. Everybody is screaming and hollering. Fans would pour beer on your head if you’re walking out. From that point on, I kind of fell in love with that kind of atmosphere.”

He spent eight years umpiring in pro baseball. He was in Single-A for three years and did two-year stints each in Double-A and Triple-A, and even got into some MLB preseason contests.

“I’m standing at home plate and Pete Rose is one manager, and Tommy Lasorda is the other manager,” Deshaies said. “I’m at home plate talking to these guys. I called a balk on Fernando Valenzuela that day.”

Whether it was chatting it up with Hank Aaron, a Major League scout at the time, or meeting a number of umpires that are still at the Major League level, Deshaies connected with many people, and had the opportunity to experience the game at its highest level.

When Major League baseball umpires went on strike, Deshaies was offered a chance by the American League, but he declined.

“I couldn’t do that, because I knew so many of the Major League umpires that were on strike,” he said.

Eventually, life in the minors proved to be too much. During his eight years of umpiring, Deshaies had been active in the Jay and Livermore Falls area. He was officiating games, coaching basketball and substitute teaching. After a season in the International League, he decided to call himself out.

“That year, I had done the International League and I’d also done four months in Colombia, South America,” said Deshaies, who recalled leaving Colombia with an armed escort. “So that was 10 months of baseball season, umpiring games every day except maybe one day off a month. It’s a long tough time in the minor leagues. When you’re traveling so much, it’s a tough life.”

He returned to Maine and took a full-time teaching job at Jay High School.

“It was time for me to settle down and get a teaching job or an athletic director job,” he said. “So I decided to go back to my career which was physical education and the sports world.”

He eventually left Jay for a teaching job at Dirigo High School. He later became the athletic director there for 14 years. He’s been at Edward Little High School for 17 years, and is now the Red Eddies’ AD. He’s remained active as one of Maine’s top baseball umpires and basketball officials.

“Some guys that get out of pro ball and get into college ball have a hard time adjusting,” Deshaies said. “You have to adjust. My philosophy was that I always give 100 percent plus, no matter what the level is. Whether it was Little League, high school or college, I’ve always worked as hard as I would a Major League game. So when I went to the next level, it wasn’t a shock because I always do it that way.”

He’s been active in working with umpires around the state, as well. He’s been a State Interpreter for high school and college baseball, a position that oversees and advises the various boards in the state. He’s also regularly held clinics around the state to help teach umpires.

“I enjoy working with umpires and making them better,” said Deshaies, who has done 27 Maine state championship games. “Because I have a knowledge level that no other umpires in the state of Maine really has, learning from umpires that are in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. I’ve always tried to teach the right way to do things.”

It has never been an easy job being an official. No matter the level, the catcalls and complaints come with the territory. So does the thankless and anonymous aspect of the job.

Still, Deshaies thrived in the role. Sunday will be one of those rare moments where the official gets his due.

“There are times when people do say things that make you keep on going,” Deshaies said. “I remember doing a Little League tournament at Auburn Suburban. The coach after said, ‘That’s the best job I’ve ever seen done.’ You get that from a Little League coach that’s never seen me before.”

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