By Tony Blasi, Sports Editor
When venerable coach Brian Dube stands his post outside the Spruce Mountain dugout, his keen eyes never leave the baseball diamond after the first pitch is thrown.
The man with the deep voice and pleasant smile has been walking the base lines for 22 seasons, including 16 years at the defunct Livermore Falls High School and the last six for Spruce Mountain.
Time has been kind to the gentleman whose passion for America’s pastime has never waned. He is one of those nice guys who respects and encourages his young athletes on and off the field.
Last season, Dube collected his 200th victory — an impressive milestone for sure. His record now stands at 203 wins, 160 losses.
“It is enjoying, rewarding to see kids come in as freshmen, and when they are seniors, they are young men, right,” Dube, a home-grown coach from Livermore Falls, said. “This time of year is one of my favorite parts because you got the young kids coming in.
“You do a lot of teaching and these kids think they know the game, but it takes them two or three years, and by the time they are seniors, they do know the game.
“I will just give you one example. All my seniors will say, ‘We weren’t that stupid were we, coach?’ ‘Oh yeah! Yeah you were.’”
The teaching aspect of coaching baseball has never gotten old for the coach who has no problem speaking his mind.
He enjoys watching athletes grow and mature on and off the diamond.
Dube is not a teacher, but he was employed in an equally demanding field — a trained emergency medical technician.
The Phoenix coach was raised in era where kids did most of their socializing on a diamond, football field and the slopes.
“I played football, baseball and we had an outstanding ski team that won a state title every year,” the Livermore Falls graduate said. “That’s when you had ski jumping, cross country skiing and slalom and giant slalom. Me, I was a ski jumper.
“(Parents) were lucky if they saw us if the sun was still shining.”
In high school, he was a pitcher and played shortstop.
“I think if you talked to any of the guys my age like Steve LaPointe, Mark Palmer, those guys will tell you that growing up, that’s what we did.
“If it was baseball season, we played baseball during the day and football in the fall…basketball. All the sports.
“Of course, there was no social media. That is what you lived for.”
But he is not out of the loop when it comes to the sweeping changes of technology.
“Here is a little story for you,” Dube said. “At a playoff game, right. My senior captain stole a base and almost got tagged out.
“I said, ‘Alex, what are you doing? One of the other captains said, ‘Check his back pocket. He had a cell phone in his back pocket. That’s why he didn’t slide.”
Former Edward Little athletic director Dan Deshaies and Dube grew up together and lived for sports.
“We discovered Strat-O-Matic when we were eight, 10 years old. Believe it or not, you can learn a lot from a game like that,” Dube said. “We just enjoyed everything about the game.
According to a Boston Globe article written by Kevin Paul DuPont in 2012, 11-year-old Hal Richman invented the board game that is played with cards in the early 1960s. Richman spent 14 years trying to improve the game, which is still popular today.
Leaving coaching and the game of baseball was out of the question when his two boys arrived. He continued playing baseball in the men’s Pine Tree League league with his sons.
“We as a family played baseball. Obviously, they (sons) played baseball at Livermore Falls,” Dube said.
Despite Maine’s cold and rainy springs, Dube shrugs off the bad weather, but he is just a bit envious of high school baseball teams in the southern part of the Pine Tree State.
“Down in Falmouth, they are two weeks ahead of us,” Dube said. “It is a huge, huge differential. They are probably outside already.
“Every year, the kids say, ‘We will never get out there coach,’” I say, ‘Eventually, it will go.’”
Sure enough, winter’s icy grip finally lets go of central Maine and the warm spring days finally return.
“I coached football years ago. I was an assistant coach and head coach and this and that, but as a friend of mine once told me, ‘Dube, you are a baseball guy,’ and that’s what I am — just a baseball guy,” the Spruce Mountain coach said. “I enjoy all sports, but baseball is my sport.
“Really enjoy coaching it. It keeps you young. The next thing you know, you’re old.”
But for over two decades, Dube has become a role model to high school athletes who have benefited from his legacy of devotion and positive influence.