BY TRAVIS LAZARCZYK

Staff Writer

One summer in college, Joe Jabar worked as a landscaper on Cape Cod, and part of the job involved digging graves.

“Thankfully, not too many people died that summer,” Jabar said.

The next summer, back on the Cape, Jabar worked on a sailboat, making sure everything on the boat gleamed in the summer sun.

Whether his job was backbreaking or cushy, at night, Jabar played baseball.

“Those were some of the best years of my life,” Jabar, who was inducted in the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame in 2003, said. “I made a lot of friends.”

Jabar, now a Justice on the Maine Supreme Court, will be an honorary captain during the Cape Cod League All-Star Game, Friday night at Fenway Park.

Jabar will be the honorary captain for the East squad. Paul Mitchell, who won 25 games in the Cape League and appeared in 162 major league games with Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A’s, Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers, is the honorary captain for the West.

A Waterville native and Colby College and Maine School of Law graduate, Jabar played three seasons in the Cape Cod League. In 1965, he pitched for Yarmouth, before joining Chatham for 1966 and ’67. Jabar posted a record of 21-4 in his three years, including back-to-back 7-0 seasons with Chatham. Jabar was named the league’s most outstanding pitcher in both his seasons with Chatham, the first two-time winner of the award. His 15 consecutive regular season wins are a Cape Cod League record.

In 1967, Jabar posted an earned run average of 1.23, and helped lead Chatham to the league title. His catcher that season was future New York Yankees star Thurman Munson.

“I remember telling people (Munson) was the best player I’d seen outside of the Majors,” Jabar said. “He was aggressive. He’d want you to throw inside at a guy, and if you didn’t, he’d get mad.”

Jabar also remembers playing against a young Bobby Valentine.

“He was just a young kid out of high school,” Jabar said. “I don’t recall if he got a hit off me.”

The winning pitcher in the 1966 Cape Cod League all-star game, Jabar has followed the league over the years, and thinks the play on the Cape is better than ever.

“I think the level of play has picked up,” Jabar said. “They’re getting players from all over the country… There’s more specialization. Now, they have pitchers who do nothing but close. We were expected to go the whole game.”

After signing as a free agent with the Seattle Pilots (the Pilots played one season in Seattle before moving to Milwaukee in 1970 as the Brewers), Jabar was 11-4 with a 3.99 ERA for the Newark (N.Y.) Co-Pilots of the Single A New York-Penn League.

During spring training in 1969, Jabar learned he would be sent back to A ball, and decided instead to go to law school.

“I had a family to think of. At that point, I made a grown-up decision,” Jabar said. “It worked out pretty well.”

Jabar said he attends the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame induction ceremony each year. He’s looking forward to seeing this year’s class, which includes former Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, enter the Hall in November. A few years ago, Jabar attended a reunion of the 1966 Chatham championship team.

“They gave us rings because they didn’t give us them when we won,” Jabar said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

 

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