Ron Staples

Ron Staples

 

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Ron Staples began his outstanding baseball career on the baseball fields of Presque Isle. He starred for Presque Isle High School, Ray Goding Post Junior Legion, Colby College and the Presque Isle Indians.   Ron was able to attain his baseball goals like any good athlete by demonstrating hard work and a keen interest in baseball.  In high school Staples played right field as a freshman but he liked catching more than anything else.  He constantly always tried to improve his hitting.  His sophomore year in high school he smashed two records, he hit ten homers in 16 games and drove in 38 runs with a .369 batting average.  His junior year he hit .307 with 13 runs batted in to help the Wildcats win the league and to the Eastern Maine Championship game which they lost to Stearns 4-3.  His senior year in 1954 he hit a robust .440.  These feats brought him into the spotlight of eastern Maine baseball as one of its up and coming stars.

 

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After his sophomore season in high school and at the age of 16, he played two summers under Freddy Harlow who was manager of the Presque Isle Indians.  In his second year with the Indians he received plenty of game time in the second half of the season and it was his hitting spurt that paced the Indians to their Maine – New Brunswick League play-off championship in 1953.  Major league scouts who watched Staples play in the Maine-New Brunswick League all agreed the he was a definite prospect.  Staples was also a pretty good track athlete, in the spring of 1954 at the state track meet he won the discus event and finished third in the javelin.  

 

Upon graduating form Presque Isle High School in 1954 he attended Colby College where he played baseball for three years.  He was a back-up catcher his freshman year at Colby, however during the summer of 1955 he finally started catching regularly for the Indians, he caught two-thirds of their  games and hit for a .315 average with two home-runs and 19 rbi and at the same time displayed his strong throwing arm and powerful bat. Ron was selected the Maine-New Brunswick League all-star catcher and was easily the most improved player. The improvement paid off his sophomore year (1956) at Colby becoming the starting catcher.  Coach John Winkin started him the opening game of the season and remained the number one catcher.  He was drawing praise as the catcher for the red hot Colby mules.  He belted four homeruns early in the season, one versus the UConn Huskies, the first to be hit in the Huskies Park in three years. Colby defeated the Huskies 9-5.  Colby was eventually seated number one team in the New England NCAA play-offs and Staples concluded the season with a .338 average.

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The Presque Isle Indians were looking forward to having Staples in their line-up for the summer of 1956 and made him an attractive offer.  However he honored a previous commitment to play for the Kentville Wildcats team in Nova Scotia.  

 

Ron returned to Colby for his junior year.

During the summer of 1957 Staples returned to Presque Isle to play for the Indians.  He started the season with the club and then decided to attend summer school at the University of Maine Orono.  While at Orono he played for the Bucksport semi-pro team.  He returned home near the end of the season and played with the Indians in the North East Invitational Tournament.  Some of the top diamond talent available would be participating in the tournament including teams from Lee AA, Presque Isle Air Force Base, Limestone Chiefs, Millinocket Pills Patten AA, Mars Hill cubs and the Houlton Collegians.  The Indians went on to win the tournament and Ron Staples, the highly regarded catcher, was named the tournament’s most valuable player.  He was a near unanimous choice, by turning in three outstanding games behind the plate handling the pitching staff and collected seven hits in 12 plate appearances.  He concluded the 1957 season with a .415 batting average.  After the tournament Red Sox Larry Goodall signed Ron to a minor league contract containing a $12,000 signing bonus and a guaranteed three year triple A salary.

 

Dwight Hunter of Caribou indicated the Ron hit the longest home run he ever saw hit a Mackin Field when he crushed a fastball from a pitcher which cleared the light tower in left field and crossed the race track in the air.

 

In 1958 for Lexington in the Nebraska State League and was selected the league all-star catcher.  In 1959 the Red Sox assigned him to Alpine a semi-pro league in Texas but he spent most of the year in the service completing his ROTC program.

 

The 1960 season Ron played Class D ball for Corning in the New York – Penn League.  He started out slowly that year but finished the last month of the season which earned him fine reports from baseball scouts.  He hit .160 the first part of the season but ended up with a .260 average thanks to a torrid hitting street.  He handled most of the catching duties but also saw some service in the outfield and at third base.  In a crucial series with Erie he had four extra base hits and drove in five runs.  This season supplied him with hope of moving up in the Red Sox organization.

 

In 1961 Ron moved up to the Class A Waterloo Hawks of Iowa in the Mid West League where he performed very well.  He was selected as the All-Star team catcher finishing the season with a .282 batting average, eight homeruns and 47 runs batted in.  He caught 54 consecutive games during the seaon until a foul tip off of his right index finger caused him to miss several games.  He returned to his duties behind the plate and help lead Waterloo when they took on the Quincy Giants in a five game championship series.

 

Ron moved up another level in 1962 when he played for Class B Winston Salem in the Carolina league.  He was coached by Eddie Popowski and played with future Red Sox players pitcher Jerry Stehpenson and Red Sox shortstop Rico Petrocelli.  Both of these players were on the 1967 Impossible Dream Team for the Sox.  While at Winston-Salem Staples had a respectable year batting .225 with thirteen home runs and 56 rbi.

 

After the 1962 season Ron decided to return home to his roots and work with his father in the family business.

 

Ron married Jeanne Powers of Presque Isle December 12, 1959 and had one daughter Nancy Staples Chabot who now resides in Caribou.  Ron died in 1977 as the result of a chain accident at his camp on the Millinocket stream.  I want to thank Ron’s daughter Nancy for her wealth of information and allowing me to view her father’s baseball memorabilia and his former wife Jeanne; also Dwight Hunter for his comments and folks at the Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library.