Middle School Baseball

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Baseball is one of the oldest interscholastic sports at Thornton Academy; the school fielded its first varsity baseball team in 1895. For its first quarter of a century, the Maroon and Gold played their home games a Saco Driving Park, a horse racing venue located west of the school. Beginning in 1920, the program called the Thornton Academy athletic grounds on the east side of U.S. Route 1 its home. Today Thornton incorporates two full-sized baseball fields on its 88-acre campus.

In 1919, Thornton Academy joined the prestigious Telegram League, a conference comprised of a number of larger schools located in the greater Portland area. In the heyday of the league, the Trojans won four Telegram championships – 1937, 1954, 1958, and 1963. The Telegram League, now known as the Southwestern Maine Activities Association (SMAA), was the last nine-inning high school baseball conference in the United States, having made the change to seven-inning contests in the 1994 season. Following the 2019 season, Thornton Academy won the SMAA championship tournament to garner its first league title in 56 years.

Some of the finest athletes to ever don a Thornton Academy uniform are part of the rich tradition that is TA baseball. The legendary Henry LaVallee was the first Thornton baseball player to receive all-state honors; he received that recognition from the Maine Sunday Telegram in 1925. Nine players have garnered the Telegram League batting championship, including Thornton Academy Athletic Hall of Famers Charles Mistos (1936), Donald Lester (1952), Roger Spaulding (1955), and Jeff Griffith (1960). Former Thornton Academy athletic director Brad Leach was a three-time all-conference selection and later starred at the University of Connecticut. More recently, pitching standout Jeff Gelinas continued his playing career as the closer for the University of Maine, and Ben Lambert (a two-time, all-state selection) stars for the nearby University of Southern Maine program.

TA’s baseball program has also boasted some outstanding coaches. Francis Mears led the Maroon and Gold to 41 victories in the mid-1950’s, including a Telegram League championship and a state runner-up finish. Neil Serpico, a former football assistant coach at the University of Alabama under Paul “Bear” Bryant, coached two conference championship teams before leaving Saco to coach at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. More recently, Phil Curtis (1963-1975) and Greg Paradis (2002-2010, 2017) each eclipsed the 100-victory plateau while managing the Thornton baseball program.

The typical Thornton Academy baseball season consists of 16 regular season games and five non-countable exhibition dates. Thornton Academy competes in the historically strong SMAA against traditional York County rivals such as Biddeford and Sanford, and many other conference affiliates. For regional postseason purposes, the Golden Trojans are grouped in the Class A South region.

All practices and home contests take place at one of the two fields on Thornton Academy’s campus. Participation in Thornton baseball is a six-day per week commitment as high school teams typically play games on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, holding practices on the remaining weekdays.

Tryouts take place at the end of March. The varsity level is reserved for the school’s most highly skilled players, while the freshman and junior varsity teams are designed primarily for player development.

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