The Obit For Pete Sickels

Pete Sickels, 77, teacher, coach, Maine Baseball Hall of Famer

Portland Press Herald (ME) - June 30, 2008

Porter ''Pete'' Sickels saved the minor league contract he had with the St. Louis Cardinals.

From time to time, Mr. Sickels would reminisce about the searing Georgia heat, about the bus rides alongside guys like him - farm league baseball players looking for a shot at the big leagues.

''It was a childhood dream,'' said Craig Sickels of Freeport, Mr. Sickels' son.

Mr. Sickels, a high school baseball star who played professionally and was inducted recently into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, died Saturday at his camp in Weld. He was 77 and had suffered from Parkinson's disease for several years.

Mr. Sickels was born on May 3, 1931, in Great Barrington, Mass. He grew up in Buxton, across the street from a baseball diamond, and started playing as a child, said his wife of 54 years, Jean Sickels.

He joined Deering High School's baseball team while he was still in middle school, and spent his varsity career at shortstop, family members said.

Mr. Sickels graduated from Deering in 1949 and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1954.

While Mr. Sickels was in college, a professional scout offered him a spot on a St. Louis Cardinals summer league farm team in Georgia. He spent the summers of 1952 and 1953 with the club as a utility infielder, his son said.

Mr. Sickels never made it to the major leagues, but he left his mark on Maine baseball in other ways, family members said.

Mr. Sickels was a math and physics teacher who coached baseball at Kents Hill School in Readfield and Mount Blue High School in Farmington for a total of more than 25 years. He was the driving force behind the creation of Farmington's American Legion baseball team in the mid-1970s.

Family members said Mr. Sickels was a humble, quiet man who enjoyed a variety of sports - he also coached skiing and tennis - and loved to hunt, fish and work in his vegetable garden.

Craig Sickels said his father told few outside of his family about the summers he spent chasing his childhood dream in Georgia.

When he introduced his father at the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony last summer, Craig Sickels, who played high school baseball, talked about how his father's best advice didn't cover fielding grounders or hitting a curveball. ''His best advice was on display every day, in the way that he carried himself - his work ethic, his compassion,'' he said.