Across galaxies of magic summers, members of the Penobscot tribe paddled open-ocean from Indian Island to The Indian Canoe Landing in Kennebunkport, their summer hunting grounds. The old landing still exists across the street from Mabel’s Lobster Claw, between the Kennebunk River Club and Government Wharf.
What drew the Penobscots this far south? By the late 1800s, they were hunting tourists, to whom they sold souvenirs such as fragrant sweet-grass baskets in the shape of porcupines. In the long summer evenings, they also liked to play a little baseball.
According to writer/researcher Sharon Cummins of Some Old News, the Penobscots took to the mound against affluent summer visitors like “summer resident George Herbert Walker, Jr. [ancestor to presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush]” who hand-picked “a team he called the Blue Stockings.” The perfect name for a team designed to humiliate the locals.
Time has obscured what the Native Americans were called.
Things got serious when Henry Parsons donated a diamond near where the Colony Hotel stands today. According to Cummins, “The Yale groundskeeper was engaged for the season.”
Some of the “best players at Williams were recruited as were the crème de la creme from Dartmouth and Princeton…none were happier than the young ladies at Cape Arundel, who reportedly scrambled for their dance cards. The [semi-pro] team was referred to as the Collegians by the press, and the name stuck.”
Here’s where it gets cinemagic. Imagine the summer people’s surprise when Louis Francis Sockalexis floats in from the souvenir stands. He’s more natural than The Natural. Quiet guy. Shock of black hair. He hits like a witch and runs like rain. “He was listed as third baseman on Kennebunkport’s 1902 roster after his brief career as the original Cleveland Indian. Some said he could have been the greatest player of all time…”
Look, Muffy, who’s that fellow out there playing against us?
Sure as Gluskap lives atop Mt. Katahdin, Louis wins the day.