Bangor East Little League: My Site News: Little League Scoreboard Honors Young Outfielder

Saturday, August 14
Little League Scoreboard Honors Young Outfielder

Little League Scoreboard Honors Young Outfielder
By TheWeekly Thursday July 1, 2010 BANGOR

Since his son, Derek, died 20 years ago of leukemia at age 11, Don Sawyer has wanted to celebrate the boy’s courage and love for baseball by leaving “his name, somehow, on the field where he played.” That hope was realized recently thanks to countless sports fans, said Sawyer, who now resides in Guilford, Vt.

An outfielder for the 1978-1979 Bangor East Little League “J-Hawks,” Derek “never missed a game,” his dad said, “even after debilitating mornings of chemotherapy.”

A new scoreboard at the Little League field might be a meaningful tribute to the boy who died at 11, Sawyer said last year to his lifelong friend and Little League battery mate, Mort Soule of Portland.

“Without fanfare,” Sawyer recalled, “Mort trekked to the University of Maine Athletic Department and eventually connected with Dale Duff, sports broadcaster and Bangor East Little League president. Dale, Mort, league volunteers and Ed Toulouse, another longtime pal from Hampden Academy teaching years, began to design and fundraise for a state-of-the-art scoreboard with affixed sign: Commemorating #4, Derek L. Sawyer, 1978-79 J-Hawks.”

On Sunday, June 13, the scoreboard was unveiled before 100 volunteers, coaches, parents and players.

“Dale Duff moderated a wonderful, sensitive ceremony,” Sawyer said. “Donna Chaput, Derek’s ever-devoted second-grade teacher, shared some poignant, precious recollections, and I stumbled through some family feelings until overwhelmed a bit by the “#4” so proudly and prominently displayed on the new scoreboard.” In fact, the scoreboard read: Home, 4; Inning, 4; Guests, 4.

Sawyer’s friend Mort Soule, a member of the Maine State Baseball Hall of Fame, clad in his Mudville uniform, delivered a spirited rendition of “Casey at the Bat” for the occasion.

“All seemed right in Mudville,” Sawyer said. “It was Derek’s day.”

The schoolteacher said he doubted he could remember everyone he wanted to thank for making the new scoreboard possible, “but I must echo praise for Dale Duff and Little League volunteers who worked so tirelessly, for those who donated funds so generously, Becky’s Breakfast Club, Hampden Academy’s ‘oldsters,’ Derek’s friends and family, the Green Mountain Gang, the Quirk boys, Jim Hartley, Mr. and Mrs. Guay, Carl Gurschick and Tom Quirk, who did the technical-ground work, and for Mort Soule, Ed Toulouse, Donna and Bob Chaput and Terry Allen, who stood close throughout.”

Sawyer added, “Fifty-three years after our Little League playing days, many of us, now gray and broad-bottomed, still relive our diamond days. It is my deepest hope that Derek’s Scoreboard will long help kids create and retain sports memories as cherished as those Derek left on the field for us.”

For information on Bangor East Little League, visit www.bangoreastll.org