Red Sox Prospect
During the early 30’s there were not of semi-pro teams but there was the Aroostook Legion League. The local entry was known as Presque Isle Midgets and they competed against Fort Fairfield, Mars Hill and Caribou. During the 1930 season the team was coached by a Mr. Wylie and the team finished second in the league that season to Mars Hill Mountaineers. Mars Hill faced the Bangor Comrades at the ACI Field for the Eastern and Northern Maine Legion Championship and lost by a score of 6-1. In Presque Isle there was also a twilight league for semi-pro players. The league was comprised of four teams; the Kilowatts, Stamp Lickers, Drones and Pipe Fitters. There was also a baseball tournament held at the Northern Maine Fair, team participating were from Presque Isle, Caribou, Fort Fairfield and Van Buren.
The 1931 version of the Presque Isle Midgets were anchored by two good pitchers in Ernie Clark and Hal Cheney. The team was coached by Spike Williams and sponsored by the local legion post. The team lost the County Championship to the Caribou Legion team 6-4 in a ten inning affair. This game saw Presque Isle pitcher Hal Cheney strikeout 19 Caribou hitters and accumulate 3 hits including a triple. Caribou pitcher Peterson allowed four runs in the second inning and pitches shutout ball the rest of the way. The Midgets did win the Northern Maine Fair tournament, winning four games in three days. They defeated the best teams that Washington, Penobscot and Aroostook County could offer. Caribou’s team was comprised of players from Caribou and Stockholm, Eastport was the champion from Washington County and Millinocket the champions from Penobscot County. Cheney won three games in two days while the hitting stars for the Midgets were Soup Willette, Bill Shaw and Ernie Clark.
1932: The National pastime was making a comeback in Presque Isle and the County this season. The Presque Isle Twilight League was formed. League members were the Presque Isle Boy’s Club, State Road, Presque Isle Legion Midgets and Battery A. Star Herald sportswriter Claude Taylor was very instrumental in organizing the league. The teams in the league would play four times each week. Many towns in the County had a town team. The Presque Isle A.A. team was under the management of Henry Gagnon and played some excellent ball during the season. The team was led by the pitching of Hal Cheney, powered offensively by Henry Gagnon, Billy Shaw and Ernie Clark; Shaw and Percy Willette were also outstanding defensively while other outstanding players were Carl Green, Verdelle Clark, Bus Shaw, Louis Gagnon and Bear Willette.
1934: This year the Aroostook League was headed by Claude Taylor and was comprised of teams from Presque Isle, Caribou, Mars Hill, and Fort Fairfield. A uniform ball was to be adopted this year for league members. The Presque Isle team was sponsored by the Abnaki club and coached by Spike Williams. Familiar names on the PI squad would be Hal Cheney, Bill Hanscom, and Bill Haskell. In an outstanding regular season game Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield hooked up in a 15 inning affair with Presque Isle coming out on top 4-2. Hal Cheney was brilliant going 15 innings allowing 5 hits and striking out 17 hitters. Ernie Clark drove in the winning run in the 15th. The Indians continue their winning ways and went on to win the League Championship behind the pitching of Cheney who was backed by a solid infield of: Ernie Clark, Bill Shaw, Talbot and Walt Shaw. The outfield was composed of Bill Haskell, Cal Green, Willette. Bear and Crock were the catchers. Cheney was awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the League, which was determined by fans by casting over 10,000 votes. The Presque Isle Indians had a record of 12-4 of which Cheney won ten. Interest ran high this season as WAGM radio broadcast nearly all league games.
The Aroostook League All-Stars selected by the fans took on the Houlton Collegians in September. Players from Presque Isle selected were Cheney, Clark 1st base, H. Shaw leftfield and Willette back-up catcher. Milton McBride from Easton was also selected to the team. Approximately 10,000 fans watched as Cheney pitched 6 shutout innings allowing just one hit to the Collegians.
1935: This season the Presque Isle Indians withdrew from the Aroostook League as result of a dispute with the league over player eligibility. Players had to reside in the town they were to play for a minimum of 90 days prior to opening of the league schedule. There was also some confusion over the use of neutral officials. The Indians could have elected to play non-league opponents this season, but ultimately decided to play a league schedule... The Boston Braves traveled to Aroostook County to play the Aroostook All-stars. The game was played in Houlton, players chosen from the Presque Isle Indians: Hubert Shaw, Hal Cheney. A familiar name from Mars Hill chosen was Clarence Keegan as well as Red Osgood from Easton.
The Boston Red Sox traveled to Bangor, Maine to take on the Maine All-Stars at Bass Park. Several County players were selected to play including: Cheney & Shaw, PI and Clarence Keegan of Mars Hill.
There were many good hurlers in the league this year but Cheney again was at the top of the class. He pitched 14 games winning eleven, he had two one hit games and two three hit games during the summer. He pitched 129 innings striking out 155 hitters allowed only 80 hits. In his all-star appearance against the Boston Braves he gave up only one hit in his two innings of work.
The Indians were coached by Spike Williams and had an outstanding season. The completed the Aroostook League with a record of 12-2. They defeated such teams as the Calais Southerners, Aroostook Major League All-stars, Houlton Collegians, Danforth, Patten A.C., Caribou A. A., East Millinocket and Guilford Advertisers. There two losses were to the St. Stephens N.B. Kiwanis Club. This season saw Hal Cheney pitching for the Guilford Advertisers; the Indians staff was now headed by Ralph Peabody, Lefty Hughes and Bill Haskell. Despite having a fine year the Indians finished in The Aroostook League behind the Mars Hill Mountaineers. The Indians played many outstanding opponents from around the state. One of the high-lights of the season was Presque Isle’s 1-0 win over Guilford at the Northern Maine Fairgrounds field. The “Advertisers” came in riding an eighteen game winning streak. It was a pitcher’s duel between Presque Isle’s Peabody and Guilford’s Cheney. Each pitcher allowed 6 hits and the Indians lone run scored on an error in the 7th inning. The game was played in front of more than 3000 fans.
During this season there was also a Presque Isle-All Star Tilt Benefit Game. The Presque Isle A.A. opposed the Aroostook League All-Stars. The purpose of the game was to raise funds for Clarence Keegan of Mars Hill and Hubert Shaw of Presque Isle who were to leave for Baltimore where they would tryout for the U.S. Olympic baseball team. Some of the members of the Presque Isle A.A. were Hubert and Bus Shaw, Harold Cheney, Eddie Bear, Henry Gagnon, Fay Ladner, Cal Green, and Bill Haskell. The All-stars lost to Presque Isle 5 to 1 as Cheney held the all-stars to four hits while striking out thirteen.
This was also the year the Hal Cheney was offered a tryout with the Boston Red Sox. He tried out for the Sox under the supervision of Hugh Duffy. He was placed under contract and sent to Mansfield, Ohio in the Ohio State League. He lost his first start 1-0 and then won his next six. The Mansfield won the Ohio State League Pennant.
Hal Cheney recalled to Hazelton to pitch in the Eastern League. He has a sensation record with Clarksdale bringing that team from the second division to second place.
Hal Cheney was now in his third season with the Red Sox farm clubs. He was pitching for Rocky Mount (North Carolina) in the Piedmont League. He started out the season with Scranton PA in the Eastern League.