Jim Dyer became a sports legend in Aroostook County and became very well known for his baseball exploits in the semi-pro Aroostook League and Maine-New Brunswick League in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.
Dyer’s athletic career did not begin in Presque Isle, he developed his multiple sport skills at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft. He starred in four sports, football, basketball, baseball and track. He earned a total of 14 letters while at Foxcroft Academy two his freshman year in football and basketball and four in each of his next three years. From Foxcroft Academy he went to Bowdoin College where he was very successful in football and baseball and also captained the first semi-official basketball team at Bowdoin during the 1941-42 season. Jim won six letters for the Polar Bears from 1938-42 and was regarded as one the best athletes to ever perform at Bowdoin. While attending Bowdoin College he not only excelled in athletics but also academics, he was a member of the National Honor Society and the DKE Fraternity and participated in student government.
In the summer of 1940 he was named to the United States team in the World Series of Amateur Baseball, which took place in Cuba with eight other countries participating. He starred in the outfield and behind the plate for the American team, which was beaten by Cuba in the finals of the tournament.
After graduating from Bowdoin he served three and one-half years with the 1269 combat engineers. He was discharged from the service in November of 1945. After a summer of baseball Dover in the Tri-County League, Jim accepted a position as a math instructor at Presque Isle High School. He returned to Dover the following summer fo another year of Tri-County baseball, but in the summer of 1948 he hooked up with the Presque Isle Indians in the Northern Aroostook League.
While playing for the Indians in 1948 he was one of the leading offensive players in the league. He helped lead his team to the Northern Aroostook League crown and a win over the Oakfield Oakies the Southern Aroostook League Champions which gave them the County Championship. In the championship game he had four hits in five at bats. Dyer was named the Most Valuable Player for the 1948 season and selected to the All-Star Team. The team finished with 40 wins and 17 losses. He also had the opportunity to play against the Birdie Tebbetts major league all-star team where he had a triple and single against major league pitching.
During the 1949 season Dyer played the outfield and managed the Indians. He was the only local player who was guaranteed a salary at the beginning of the season, all other local players provided their services without compensation. This occurred as a result of outside paid ballplayers. During the season he hit for a .353 average collecting 87 hits and scored 54 runs. He was selected to the league All-Star team and also to the All- star team which played the Birdie Tebbetts Major League All-Stars.
The 1950 campaign saw Dyer start out strictly as a player. When the Indians faltered at the outset of the season and manager Dick Desmond resigned he accepted the managing duties once again. He piloted the Indians to the regular season Maine-New Brunswick League championship and a 33-18 record. In the championship play-off his team won seven of eight games. He was named to manage the Maine-New Brunswick League All-Stars against the Birdie Tebbetts Major League All-Stars.
Again in 1951 Dyer began the season as player/manager of the Indians. In the first six games he was pounding the ball at a .385 clip with ten hits in twenty-six trips to the plate and being looked at as an all-star selection. However the recurrence of an old ankle injury forced him out of the line-up. The locals got off to a slow start and many players were coming and going. Dyer was later removed from his position as player coach but was signed by the Houlton Collegians. He was now ready to move back into the outfield and continued his torrid hitting at a .354 clip. His fine play helped lead the Collegians into the play-offs. Dyer was again named to manage the Maine-New Brunswick League All-Stars against the Tebbetts Major League All-Stars.
In three of his four years with the locals he hit better than .350, his worst season at the plate was 1950 when he hit .275. Jim Dyer was rated one of the greatest outfielders in Aroostook’s colorful baseball history. When his playing days were through he continued to be active in baseball, umpiring and running baseball instruction programs for the Presque Isle Recreation Dept.
In 1958 Dyer became coach of the Presque Isle High School varsity baseball team. He coached 15 years with his teams never finishing lower than second in 13 of those years. His teams won five Aroostook League Championships in 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1972. From 1950-68 Dyer was also considered one of the best basketball officials in Eastern Maine.
Jim Dyer has been inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, Maine Sports Legends Hall of Fame and the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. It is also important to acknowledge that he was as equally talented in the classroom as he was on the athletic fields. He had a fantastic knowledge of mathematics and an ability to convey that knowledge effectively to all of his students.
Born Nov. 7, 1920 he was married to the former Doris Berce of Dover-Foxcroft. They had five children; two sons James Jr., and Jeff and three daughters, Judy, Janice and Jennifer. Coach Dyer died in September of 1972.
Thank you to the Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library for the use of their resources, members of the Dyer family for their information and Tim Olore. If you wish to comment on the article contact me at 207-764-4217 or the Presque Isle Star Herald.