When the players on the Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League team make their World Series debut Thursday in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Paul Pickett will know exactly what some of them will experience.

After all, as a member of the 1971 Augusta East Little League team that also reached the World Series, Pickett, now 64, can relate to the excitement and nerves that accompany the big stage in Williamsport.

“It’s pretty neat (that Gray-New Gloucester is going),” said Pickett, 64, who played third base on that Augusta East squad. “I watch (the Little League World Series) every year. I have ever since we went. I love watching it, because those kids give 100 percent.”

Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond is just the fourth Maine Little League team to reach the World Series, joining Portland Suburban (1951), Augusta East (1971) and Westbrook (2005). 

Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond, the New England champion, will play its first game in the tournament at 3 p.m. on Thursday (ESPN) against the Northwest champions from Seattle.

Pickett, who lives in Gray, said he’s followed the team’s journey through the state and regional tournaments with great excitement, as memories of that 1971 run flooded back.  


In 1971, baseball ruled in Augusta, which had three different Little League squads and offered plenty of talent to select an All-Star team for postseason play. 

Al Cloutier, a second baseman on the Augusta East squad, said he was not surprised by the team’s eventual success. In the summer of 1970, the team made a strong run in the district tournament before it got knocked out by rival Auburn Suburban. The following year, most of the group returned, including the squad’s entire starting infield.

“We at least expected to win a state championship,” Cloutier said. “We’d gone to the district finals (the year before), our infield was intact. We had three dynamite pitchers, but two (Jeffrey Keezer and Gerald Mason) that really carried us. We had real high expectations. … We had our work cut out for us, but we certainly expected to win our district and get to the state tournament, possibly win the state tournament.”

The 1971 Augusta Little League team reached the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. In this clipping from the Kennebec Journal, the team was set for a warm homecoming after the tournament concluded.

Charlie Gallant, who played at University of Maine, coached the all-star squad. Gallant, his players recalled recently, preached pitching and defense.

“He was very demanding and he intimidated us, knowing he had played at Maine,” said Cloutier, 64, who would go on to become a longtime assistant and head baseball coach at Cony High School. “He was tough on us, but had a good sense of humor. He certainly had his own style, but it was very enjoyable.”

“We had practices back then where — (and) you don’t see it anymore because they probably consider it child abuse (now) — but it was a ‘four corner drill,’ our coach would call it,” Pickett said. “It would be 100 ground balls, with a kid hitting and a kid catching. Our infield — Al Cloutier, myself, (Mark) St. Pierre and (Leon) Mooney — they’d hit 100 ground balls to us. If you missed it, you had to go get it. I attribute (much of the success) to defense. I think we had one error in the 12 or 16 games that we won.”


Augusta East exacted some revenge in the 1971 district tournament when it ousted Auburn Suburban.

“We had a couple of benchmarks (during the run), one of those was beating Auburn Suburban,” said Scott Mitchell, who played left field for Augusta East. “That was a real focus for us, and Charlie Gallant, our coach. When we won that, we were three games in and were like, ‘hey, we just beat Auburn Suburban, we can do some things.'”

The run almost ended before it began. Augusta East had to beat South Portland Central 5-4 in eight innings to win the Bi-District Tournament.

“That was probably the toughest game of them all,” Cloutier said. “That was a nail-biter that we won in extra innings. We rose from the dead a couple of times in that game. Then we went on to the state tournament and kind of rolled in that.”

Indeed, Augusta East cruised to the state championship, beating Portland League Three (5-0) and Knox Suburban (4-0). The team also had strong victories at the start of the East Region tournament in New London, Connecticut, beating Hazleton National (Pennsylvania) 6-1 and Rotterdam (New York) 3-0. But it was the championship game — with Augusta East holding off Wallington, New Jersey, 3-2 — that provided the play of the season, a home run-robbing catch by Mason that clinched the team’s trip to the World Series.

“It was just an incredible catch by Gerry Mason,” said Mitchell, 64 and a Norridgewock resident. “It was going to end (the game) one way or another. If he didn’t catch that, we were going home. I was right there when it happened and yelled, ‘Get to the wall! Get to the fence!’ And he did. Just an incredible athlete, that kid.”


The team had little time to celebrate, as it boarded a bus two hours later with the team from Madrid, Spain — which traveled to Connecticut to scout the competition — on the way to Pennsylvania.

Augusta East was one of eight teams to play in the 1971 Little League World Series. It dropped a 5-0 decision to Madrid in the opening round, but pulled a surprise 1-0 win over Lexington, Kentucky in the consolation round. Augusta eventually lost to Cagaus, Puerto Rico 4-0 to conclude its trip. Tainan City, Taiwan won the World Series title.

The most notable player at the tournament was Lloyd McClendon of Gary, Indiana, who went a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate, with five home runs. He was intentionally walked in all of his other plate appearances. McClendon would play in Major League Baseball for eight seasons (1987-1994) with the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. He eventually became a manager, leading the Pirates (2001-2005), Seattle Mariners (2014-2015) and Detroit Tigers (2020).

“There were huge crowds,” Cloutier recalled. “It was a rainy kind of week. … We didn’t manufacture a lot of runs down there. But certainly the highlight of the tournament itself for me was Lloyd McClendon. He was the stud of the whole tournament. Every time he got up (to the plate) it was a home run or an intentional walk. He was just a tremendous player.”

After the series, Augusta East traveled to Washington D.C.

“We went to the White House,” Mitchell said. “We got to see a lot of Washington. We went to a Baltimore Orioles-Milwaukee Brewers doubleheader, this is at the old Memorial Stadium. I remember shaking hands with Boog Powell, and his hand fully engulfed mine; he was a very large man. And Brooks Robinson. That was a real treat, because they were on top of the world back then, Baltimore. Even being a die-hard Red Sox fan, you couldn’t help but admire those guys. We got to shake (former Vice President) Spiro Agnew’s hand in the Rose Garden (of the White House), that was crazy. We had some boys on that team who had never been out of state, much less Washington.”


Members of the 1971 Augusta East All-Star team Gerald Mason, left, William Leet, Jeffery Keezer, Edwin Pickett Jr., Paul Pickett, Al Cloutier, Mark St. Pierre and Scott Mitchell pose for a photo behind a scoreboard sign honoring their late coach Charlie Gallant on July 10, 2021 at Ray Rivelli Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We met (astronaut) Neil Armstrong at a dinner,” Pickett added. “It was pretty wild. All that stuff, at 12 years old, you just take it in and you appreciate it more as you get older. It was quite an experience.”

The team was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017. The group has celebrated milestone reunions over the years and many still keep in touch. In 2021, the team got together to help dedicate a new scoreboard at Rivelli Field in Augusta to honor of Gallant, who died in 2020. Pickett said he’s planning an end-of-summer party — an annual tradition — and will have many of his former Augusta East teammates over.

For now, the players on that 1971 Augusta squad say they will be pulling hard for Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond. They even offered a little advice.

“Enjoy every moment of it and take it all in,” Pickett said. “Be calm during the game; you can’t get over-excited. You almost can’t help it down there. … It’s probably overwhelming for them. But these kids (from Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond) can play though, all of them.”

“I would just tell these kids, just breathe it in,” Mitchell added. “It’s easy for me to say now at my ripe old age of 64, but I think with these kids, if there’s anything you want to tell them, that’s what you’d want to tell them. See it all, man, and enjoy. It’s an experience.”

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