AUGUSTA — Maine sports legend Ted Shiro, who made history at Waterville High School and Colby College and who once outscored NBA Hall of Fame member Bob Cousy in a Boston Celtics preseason game, died Wednesday at a hospice care facility in Naples, Florida. He was 87.

“He was an icon,” said nephew Peter Beckerman, 67, a Sidney resident who flew to Florida on Monday to be with Shiro. “Thank goodness we came down when we did. We talked a little bit. … He was failing. He really went downhill very rapidly the last week and a half. He went very peacefully, surrounded by family and very close friends. It’s a big loss, just a very big loss. He will be missed.”

Shiro is a member of seven sports halls of fame, including the Maine Basketball, New England Sports and Maine Baseball halls of fame.

Shiro earned 12 varsity letters playing three sports at Waterville High School, where he graduated in 1947. He helped the Panthers win 67 consecutive basketball games and back-to-back state championships in 1944 and ’45. Waterville also won a New England high school basketball title in this time as well.

In 1945, Shiro became the first high school basketball player to earn All-New England honors for two consecutive years.

“He had all sorts of talent,” Beckerman said. “Can you imagine winning 67 games in a row? Just incredible.”


John “Swisher” Mitchell, older brother of former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell and a member of the Maine Basketball and Sports hall of fames in his own right, was a teammate of Shiro’s during that then-unprecedented stretch for the Waterville basketball team.

Mitchell, 88, who still resides in Waterville, recalled how close he and his teammate were growing up, first playing together at the Waterville Boys Club and later at the junior high and high school levels. Even after they went their separate ways for college — Mitchell was a two-time all-Yankee Conference selection at the University of Rhode Island — Mitchell said he and Shiro remained close.

“Teddy has been a very good friend of mine from the time we were in school together,” said Mitchell, who mentioned the two used to talk on the phone often and discussed everything from the old days to Shiro’s grandchildren, including Kansas City Chiefs third-string quarterback Aaron Murray. “… We’ve been friends ever since the beginning — all of the guys on the team.”

Shiro went on to Colby College, where he graduated in 1951 as the program’s all-time leading scorer. He scored 1,212 points in three years (freshmen were prohibited from playing on the varsity team at the time), which is good for 16th all-time in program history. He was the first student athlete to score 1,000 career points at Colby.

Shiro, a shooting guard who also played baseball and football at Colby, earned All-American honors in 1951 as well.

“He was a great one,” former Colby men’s head basketball coach and athletic director Dick Whitmore said. “He was still living in Waterville when I started at Colby, so we got together a lot. I just got to know him, and obviously there was the historical nature with John Mitchell and that ’44 team and how well he did at Colby. That whole thing was just a wonderful thing to be a part of.”


The 73-year-old Whitmore, who is also the chairman of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, said he spoke with Shiro as recently as this past summer in anticipation of his induction into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2015.

“We talked about the tidbits on everything and went over the wonderful career he had,” said Whitmore, who described Shiro as a “personable” and “gregarious” guy. “He always like to talk about Red (Auerbach) and how close he was at that time to getting to where he wanted to be. We talked about being at Colby, the teams. It was just kind of a reminiscing and, in retrospect, a wonderful time for me.”

After graduating from Colby, Shiro earned a tryout with the powerful Boston Celtics. He played in 12 preseason games with the Celtics and was the final player cut on the 1951-52 team that featured future Hall of Famers Cousy, Bill Sharman and Ed Macauley.

“He scored 12 points in a preseason game that Cousy only scored 11 in,” Beckerman said. “He remembered that. He was just a great athlete. He was all-everything. He really was an icon.”

As Paul McClay, 82, an Augusta resident, recalls, he was also a great friend. A graduate of Waterville Senior High and Colby, albeit a few years behind Shiro, McClay said he had “so many stories of Ted” from over the years.

One he did recount was the time Shiro invited him and his children to meet Red Auerbach at a game at the old Boston Garden.

“Red spied Teddy and said, ‘What do you want, elf?’ Teddy said, ‘I’ve got someone you wanted to meet,'” said McClay, who noted how the Celtics legend initially scared his daughter before winning her over by showing him an electric train set and giving them all keychains. “Teddy could open a lot of doors.”

After Shiro could not make the trip to Bangor last year for his induction into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame because of health problems, McClay and Shiro’s brother, Burt, accepted on his behalf.

“He’s going to be missed by me and my family an lot of other people,” McClay said. “We thought the world of him.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.