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Nine River Valley hall of famers
RIVER VALLEY -- The sheer involvement in the sport can bring rewards beyond imagination, so being recognized by the Maine Baseball Hall Of Fame is certainly a grand achievement.
The recent induction of Mark Palmer increased the total to nine who have River Valley ties that have been forever enshrined in the MBHOF. The 12 were honored at the 41st induction ceremonies at the Portland Holiday Inn By The Bay, are over 500 individuals who are inducted in the prestigious group.
They include: Dominic "Mico" Puiia (1980), Raymond Baum (2007), Ted Clark (2009) and Steve LaPointe (2009) of Rumford; Stan Horne (1983), Bitsy Ionta (2000) and Neil Stinneford (2009) of Dixfield; Stan Thomas (1987) and Palmer (2011). The honorees represented those individuals who have contributed on various levels in promoting America's pastime.
“Being inducted is great,” said George Ferguson during his induction speech in 2010. “That’s because the Maine Baseball Hall Of Fame is our Cooperstown.”
Ferguson was referring to the Major League Baseball Hall Of Fame in New York.
Baseball is a unique sport because the nature of the rules and activities has allowed humans to remain on the diamond. These times have provided the players, coaches and administrators with a vast array of memories.
“For those of us who are passionate about baseball, it’s a hobby,” said Ionta, who played organized baseball into his seventies. “When most of us started taking up the MBHOF) didn’t even exist. So we played for fun. Now when Don Douglas calls up and tells us that we’ve been chosen, it’s a big honor because it is completely out of the blue.”
Puiia, who starred at Colby College, was the first from the area elected and his old school, no-noncense style will always be remembered. Following his playing days, Puiia was the longtime athletic director at Rumford High School and was well respected; coining the phrase "need I say more."
Stinneford played for the Dixfield town team and earned all-New England honors at Colby. Horne was known for being durability and an all-star pitcher who threw both ends of a doubleheader in the Timber and Pine Tree Leagues in the 1930s-50s, as was Clark, who shined as a shortstop. Baum was a standout player and coached the Rumford Rams in the fifties. Thomas, a Mexico graduate, worked hard on developing his skills and reached the major leagues as a relief pitcher.
Ionta proved that physical stature certainly doesn’t expose the heart and desire that a human being is capable of delivering, because he quietly became one of the best-ever pitchers in western Maine. The sheer determination that he carried on his shirt sleeve, led to a 223-41 record in the PTL, in addition to earning the utmost respect and admiration of those who witnessed these traits.
LaPointe, a catcher lacking foot speed, realized he needed to develop his offensive skills. So, he spent countless hours and became a self-taught switch hitter. LaPointe remains active in the PTL.
LaPointe still remains enthusiastic about being able to share the vast knowledge of baseball. This is evident because he has been the varsity baseball coach at Rumford and Mountain Valley since 1981, having won over 300 games.