This Presque Isle semipro baseball star played in the 1936 Berlin Olympics


Apr. 2—Written by Jim Carter.

Hubert S. “Billy” Shaw was an outstanding student athlete at Presque Isle High School.

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Shaw in 1928 entered Presque Isle High School, where he participated in track and football for two years, and baseball for four years. He also was active in the band, orchestra, glee club, debate team and student council.

He was an excellent defensive second baseman and the team’s offensive catalyst, developing a reputation as a dangerous and timely hitter. Shaw also was the 1932 class valedictorian.

Shaw, along with Hal Cheney, Verdelle Clark and his brother, Walter Shaw, led the Wildcats to the Aroostook League Baseball Championship with a 9-1 record. He continued his outstanding baseball play with the Presque Isle Midgets in the Junior American Legion Baseball League. Shaw divided his time between first base and the pitcher’s mound.

In 1932, Shaw entered Bowdoin College. He played halfback on the football team for two years and was a four-year member of the baseball team, serving as captain his senior year. He figured prominently in leading Bowdoin to Maine’s intercollegiate championship.

During the summers of his college years, he played for the Presque Isle Indians in the semipro Aroostook League. He was selected to play against the Boston Red Sox in Bangor in June 1935, and was one of the Aroostook All-stars who played against the Boston Braves the same summer in Houlton.

During his four years with the Indians, Shaw had a lifetime batting average of well over .300 and was selected to the Aroostook League All-Star team four times.

Shaw received his B.S. in biology from Bowdoin in June 1936. That summer, Shaw and Clarence Keegan of Robinson were chosen for the U.S. Olympic team to compete in the Amateur Baseball Olympic demonstration games in Berlin. Keegan played at third base and Shaw manned first base.

On Aug. 12, 1936, the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game in Europe or the United States — 100,000 — jammed the Olympic Stadium to watch two American amateur teams play a demonstration game.

Batting third, the left-handed-hitting Shaw had the honor of hitting the first home run in Olympic play. His inside-the-park homer with a man on base in the first inning gave the “Olympics” an early 2-0 lead in a game which the “World Champions” eventually won 6-5.

After the Olympics, the team traveled to Holland, Belgium, Paris and London for exhibition games.

Upon arriving home, Shaw immediately rejoined the Presque Isle Indians in a game against the Danforth A.A. and collected two hits, including a double, in a victory. A “Bill Shaw Day” was planned to welcome home the local Olympic hero.

Shaw entered Harvard University and earned a master’s degree in biology in 1937. He accepted a teaching position at St. Albans School in Washington D.C., where he taught chemistry and biology. He also coached football and baseball.

The St. Albans chemistry laboratory was later dedicated in his name.

Shaw played semipro baseball for St. Albans (Vermont) of the Northern League during the 1937 season. The Northern League was composed of eight teams and over the years developed many players who went on to play in the major leagues. He played there two summers.

In 1939, while playing for the Lancaster Pilots of the Twin State League, he suffered a separated shoulder that essentially ended his semipro career.

Shaw joined the navy in August 1943 and was assigned to the West Coast Training Command Combat Information Center School at San Diego. He achieved the rank of lieutenant before he was separated from active duty in February 1946.

He returned to St. Albans to teach, then in 1947 took a position at Bowdoin College as the assistant director of admissions. He served as the director of admissions from 1949 until his retirement in 1967.

That year, he accepted a position as the Chief of Policy and Regulations for Federal Student Aid Programs in the Department of Education and later served in the Bureau of Student Financial Aid in the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., until his retirement in January 1982.

Shaw, who died in 1985, was in 2010 inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jim Carter of Presque Isle is a retired teacher and coach in the Caribou school system. The Presque Isle native is the author of “Six Decades of Wildcat Basketball: A History of Boys & Girls Basketball at Presque Isle High School 1950-2009,” published in 2009 by Northeast Publishing. He also wrote “Aroostook Basketball History & Eastern Maine Tournament History,” which was self-published. The 1971 Husson University graduate, who retired in 2001, has since been a fixture on the County basketball scene as a commentator on TV, radio and the internet, most recently doing live streaming at wagmtv.com.

Carter thanks the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle and Hubert S. Shaw Jr. for providing valuable information for this story.



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