Adult diamond action

Inmates, outside players locked in for exhibition softball at Maine State Prison

Local men head inside facility to play hot, humid game of ball against inmates
By Mark Haskell | Aug 15, 2019

Warren — It was a hot day on about every softball diamond in Maine on Saturday, July 20 as temperatures crept near triple-digits and the humidity and heat index did the same. State Little League tournaments took mandatory water breaks every two innings and the tar in the parking lots felt soft against the soles of the shoes of fans in attendance.

However, the hottest field in the state on that day may have been inside the tall walls of the Maine State Prison, where an exhibition softball game between inmates and prison employees and outside players — like the temperatures — put up significant numbers as well.

Sergeant Curtiss Doyle assembled a team off 11 players — fellow employees and a smattering of players from the Rockland Ford Men’s Softball League — to square off against inmates.

It was the second straight year the game had been played, as the inmates, whose team name is the "Rebels," won in convincing fashion (28-16) in 2018.

Things did not go well for the Millinocket Rockets — the name of the non-inmate team — early on as the Rebels scored the game’s first 12 runs, but the locals rallied to take the lead late in the nine-inning affair and escaped with a hard-fought, 18-17 win.

Team members for the Millinocket Rockets included Greg Knight, Mike Kee, Shawn Hiller, Andrew Rodgers, Dale Lindsey, Curtiss Doyle, Nick Clapperton, Chris Vitale, Tommy Curtis, Andrew King, Andrew Stanley and Nick Curato.

“The game was an opportunity for the corrections officers and the prisoners to bridge the divide and play a game of softball — a good time was had by all," Doyle said.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Hiller, who plays for Mid-Knight Auto in the Rockland Ford league. “I was kind of nervous, which I am before every game. After we went in and went through security, we didn’t really see any inmates until we got out to the field. Beautiful field surrounded by chain link fences.”

The fences, for those who have not been inside the walls, are 25 feet high, with the tops wrapped in barbed wire. Home run balls could not be tracked down, so many balls were used throughout the nine-inning affair.

“You go in with a little caution,” said Knight, who also plays for Mid-Knight Auto. “We go through these gates and then they close the door behind you and you’re like, ‘OK we’re in.’ Then you go through the next [gate] and you go down this hallway and nobody was out there at first. They were all in chow.”

There was general trepidation among several of the outside players who came in, but Knight said “all the guys that played against us were very good.”

“They were cordial with us,” he said. “Of course we knew a couple of the guys who played at the farm who were back up there so they chatted with us a little bit. They’re big, huge, muscular guys.”

Bolduc Correctional Facility (BCF) has a team in the Rockland league that is for inmates who have less than four years remaining of their sentences and have exemplified good behavior. Some do make the wrong choices and end up back inside the walls.

“We were trailing [by] I believe seven in the third [and we] started getting a few back in the next two innings,” said Hiller. “Greg did a great job pitching once he found a groove. We started hitting. There was no way we were losing that game.”

After all, much was at stake after the inmates swung to a convincing win the year before.

Knight said in the sixth inning, general population released and several inmates came around the fence to watch the last few innings of the game, while others walked the track around the field.

He added that “I’m definitely going back” next year for the rubber match.

“They were very, very good to us,” said Knight. “It was probably the funnest softball game I’ve played all year.”

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.