ROCKLAND — When the final out of the Midcoast Babe Ruth League championship game between Waldoboro and Rockland Ford was recorded on Sunday, July 10, it also brought to and end a longstanding career on the diamonds for the sports voice of Midcoast Maine.

Don Shields, who has worked with the Midcoast Babe Ruth League 27 years in a variety of capacities, officially stepped down as president of that longstanding organization at the conclusion of Waldoboro’s 12-5 win over Rockland Ford.

Shields handed off the coveted Allen T. Wilcox championship trophy to Waldoboro, the newly-crowned league champions, and walked off into the sunset.

Weeks prior, Shields coached his final baseball game for Oceanside High School as the Mariners lost on the road against higher-ranked Lawrence of Fairfield.

The 62-year-old Shields said “it’s the right time” to step away and “there’s a lot of stress that goes on with the day-to-day.”

“I still loved the practices and I enjoyed the kids, but it was all the other stuff,” said the Thomaston resident and Camden-Rockport High School graduate. “The paperwork and the stuff behind the scenes was starting to wear me down. And I just never wanted to get to that point where ‘OK, I’m not happy and it’s spilling over.’ It was just the right time for me to say after 27 years let’s try something different.”

Shields started his career in the Midcoast Babe Ruth League — the longest tenured Babe Ruth League in the state — in umpiring and did that for a decade before making the transition to coaching in the Midcoast Babe Ruth League at Georges Valley. He put in for the position largely due to the fact his youngest son Matthew’s team needed a coach.

He had no idea his love for the gig would stick.

“Getting the opportunity to coach Matthew really got my juices going and I thought, ‘Wow I really enjoy this’ and I really enjoyed getting to know the kids and things like that. When you umpire, you know the kids but you don’t really know them. It’s not like coaching.”

He recalled his teams struggled record-wise early on, but made its way to the Babe Ruth championship game in his third year as coach.

Shields also took over coaching the varsity baseball team at Georges Valley High School in 2009 and, eventually, at Oceanside High School when GVHS and Rockland District High School consolidated.

In the high school ranks, Shields ended his career with a 122-99 record (.552 winning percentage) between the Buccaneers and Mariners. He was 20-25 with the Bucs and 102-74 with the Mariners.

He also coached a multitude of Midcoast Babe Ruth all-star teams over the years, including in 2009, when he helped lead Midcoast South 14s to state runner-up honors.

His career working with the MBRL — which began as Knox County Babe Ruth in 1953 and was renamed prior to the start of the 2000 season — also earned him a recent induction into the Maine Babe Ruth Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed on him Saturday, July 16 at the state tournament in Augusta.

Shields said, “I was totally surprised” and “I did not see that coming.”

“I got a call about two weeks prior,” he said. “The phone call was like, ‘Put on your speakerphone, we want to talk to your wife.’ And they said, ‘What are you doing on that Saturday’ and when I said nothing he said, ‘No you’re going to Augusta because you’re going into the Maine Babe Ruth Hall of Fame.’”

Shields also is a member of the Midcoast Sports Hall of fame (2015) and Maine Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame (2007).

It was longtime friend and Maine Babe Ruth Commissioner Peter “Rabbi” Henderson who made the call to Shields and presented him with his plaque July 16.

“I’ve known him since before high school,” said Shields. “We’ve got almost 50 years of friendship to go along with that. That was nice that he was the one that called me and [later] presented me with the plaque.”

Shields said one of the reasons he originally got into umpiring in the MBRL is his former employer, WRKD in Rockland, stopped broadcasting high school baseball games, which freed up time for him to contribute to his favorite sport in other avenues.

“Before you knew it I had shin guards, a chest protector and a face mask and off we go,” he said. “I really enjoyed the umpiring end and [later] it benefited me as a coach because I knew the rules.”

When asked if any particular games stuck out over his coaching career, he promptly recalled the 14-year-old Babe Ruth all-star team — Midcoast South — that made it to the state championship game in 2009.

“We had kids from Georges Valley, Lincoln Academy and Medomak,” he said. “And I was told by somebody before the tournament started that we were not that good and, ‘You guys will be lucky to win a game at districts.’ Well we swept districts and then we went down to Westbrook and played Portland.”

Midcoast South won two games to advance to the state final, including a victory over Portland, which Shields added had not lost a game at the state level in four years.

Portland, ultimately, advanced through the loser’s bracket to face Midcoast South again in the finals and ended up winning back-to-back games — a 5-4 win in game one and 6-0 victory in the all-important “if” game to win the state title.

Shields, as he has been known to do over his decades of calling sports on the radio, broke down the most significant play of game one as if he just unplugged his headset.

“Winning run on second base, two outs in the seventh inning and one of our kids, Seth Batty, hit a rope and the shortstop made the greatest two-out catch you’ve ever seen in your life at that level. Snow-coned it, fell over, did a somersault and held onto the ball.”

He added coaching Babe Ruth all-star teams can be tricky because it’s a very quick turnaround from league play to all-stars, where players were on opposing teams — often vying for a league title — only days or even hours prior.

“Those guys who played on that team did not all go to school together,” he said. “And they’re still all in contact. And every so often that game gets chatted about on Facebook in a little chat between us all. I’m always amazed that they’ve stayed friends and remember that run vividly.”

As far as at the high school level, Shields said “it’s more teams that stand out” than any one game, particularly the Mariner baseball teams in 2015 and 2018.

“We won 16 in a row with that [20]15 team and lost that playoff game with Camden Hills,” while the 2018 team was a younger team that advanced to the semifinals and lost to top-ranked Ellsworth.

“By the time we got to Ellsworth we’d burned through all our pitching,” Shields said.

While Shields is finished coaching and administrating, he remains passionate about his work on the radio and has no plans of slowing down.

In addition to being the voice of Midcoast Maine on the airwaves for high school basketball and the voice of the University of Maine women’s basketball team, Shields also calls men’s soccer, football and baseball games for Bowdoin College and has also filled in calling a few basketball games for the Polar Bears on occasion.

In fact, when word got out he was stepping down at Oceanside and as MBRL president, Bowdoin College reached out and asked Shields to call the home baseball games next spring for the Polar Bears.

“I’ve got several more years,” he said. “I’m not slowing down on the radio end.”