MacLean still loves thrill of playing ballFormer semipro player, Camden attorney now enjoys coed softball
Camden — Baseball, or softball, has been part of Chris MacLean's life for most of his 45 years.
And no matter the level of play, his level of play or his age, for which there have been many, his love has never wavered.
MacLean, a 45-year-old Camden resident, has played in the Camden Adult Coed Softball League the past 10 years. MacLean currently plays for the two-time defending champion Free Press Redwings, who are ranked first again this summer.
While the league is fun, it is hardly the highest level of softball he has under his belt.
MacLean was a talented baseball player in high school as he batted more than .400 and played outfield for Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale, from where he graduated in 1987. He helped lead the Bulldogs to a state Class C championship berth, though the team lost to Washington Academy of East Machias in the state finals.
He also played Little League, Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball in addition to playing in the high school ranks. He was even recruited by legendary University of Maine baseball coach John Winkin to play for the Black Bears. Winkin recently passed away.
Ultimately, MacLean, who saw collegiate baseball as more of a time commitment than he could make, made the decision to focus on academics.
It proved a sound decision as MacLean transferred from the University of Maine in Orono to the University of Southern Maine, where he graduated from, and eventually went on to graduate from Maine Law School in 1996.
He has been an attorney in Camden for 18 years specializing in family law, criminal defense and general civil litigation.
By any means necessary, MacLean always looked for a game to play in, or perhaps even just a ball to hit. As a youth he spent countless hours with friends at a batting cage in Farmingdale.
“We used to take the regulator off the pitching machines so that they would pitch endlessly, without having to put in quarters, as long as we kept feeding buckets of balls into the feeder,” he said. “I am certain we wore out the motors in those machines, but we became highly-skilled hitters.”
His first softball game came when, at age 16, he joined a men's league in Augusta. He hit “around .600 that summer” and his team won the league championship, though the team would later forfeit the title after questions were raised about MacLean's age in the adult league.
Years later, he joined the Maine Majestics, a semiprofessional modified fast-pitch softball team, that played games throughout the Northeast. The team qualified for the national tournament several times, including one year MacLean played.
He called the level of competition in that league “the highest I have ever seen or experienced in my life.”
“I remember playing a game in the nationals against a team from Miami,” he said. “The opposing pitcher was amazing. I considered myself an amazing hitter, and I was looking forward to showing him what I could do. I struck out swinging on three consecutive pitches. I could not touch the ball. Even more humiliating, the catcher told me before each pitch what was coming: a fastball, a riser, and then a sinker.”
The owner of the Maine Majestics asked MacLean to return the following season, but Anheuser-Busch purchased the team and consolidated it with a few other Northeast squads and planned on playing games overseas.
MacLean tried out for the squad, but was cut, thus ending his semiprofessional playing career.
After having been out of softball for around 15 years, MacLean returned to the competitive ranks in the Camden Adult Coed Softball League.
He said it was “an amazing feeling to be back in the game.”
“This summer marks 25 years since I played for the Maine Majestics,” he said. “I am quite a bit slower and less nimble than I used to be. Back in the 1990s, I suffered an injury to my sciatic nerve. My right leg and foot have been numb ever since, and I have no reflex in my knee or ankle. Still, I am able to contribute.”
He learned to switch-hit while playing wiffleball as a youth and still does so today as he alternates back and forth between batting left-handed and right-handed in the Camden Adult Coed Softball League, where he is hitting more than .700 on the season.
“I have slightly more power batting left-handed because I am pushing off with my good leg,” he said. “I don't have the power that I had 25 years ago, but I can still hit the ball out of the Lincolnville [Central School] field we play on batting left-handed and right-handed.”
While acknowledging his best years are likely behind him, MacLean said he has no plans of slowing down any time soon.
“I hope I still have a few more years [of playing] left in me.”
Seemingly, so do the Redwings.