Pete Sickels, 77, teacher, coach, Maine Baseball Hall
Portland Press Herald (ME) - June 30, 2008
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'
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
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