Bangor High baseball’s success is Bob Kelley’s legacy

While listening to the Bangor-Falmouth baseball state class A championship game Saturday afternoon on the radio, I couldn’t help think about how Bangor High School has been so successful over the years with their teams in their 102 state championships is because many of those 102 state championship teams were coached by former Bangor high athletes in the sport they played at Bangor.

They then went on to coach that same team to championships. Baseball is an excellent example of this process of success. It was 20 years to the day that Bangor won it’s fourth consecutive State Class A baseball championship from 1994-97 under Bob Kelley.

Kelley, my lifelong friend, was a former outstanding center fielder and hitter for Bangor under coach Red Barry. Kelley, a physical education teacher and baseball coach at 5th Street Junior High school was named the baseball coach at Bangor by Athletic Director Barry for the 1969 season.

Since 1970 when baseball had 4 classes Bangor has won 13 state class A Championships including the four year consecutive state championship run from 1994-97 under Coach Kelley.

Kelley would go on and win 8 state championships and 15 Eastern Maine A championships in his 31 year career before he retired in 2000.

Athletic Director Steve Vanidestine, a former outstanding Bangor baseball player himself, who played for Kelley named Jeff Fahey, an outstanding center fielder for Bangor who also played for Kelley and was the Bangor High JV coach as the head coach to replace Kelley in 2001.

Jeff Fahey would go on and win 4 state Class A baseball championships in his 15 years coaching the Rams. He had won 3 consecutive state Class A championships in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

When Fahey retired after the 2016 season, Athletic Director Steve Vanidestine, again reached into the Bangor baseball alumni connection when he named 7 year Bangor high assistant baseball Coach David Morris, a former outstanding Bangor high catcher for Coach Kelley in the early 80’s to coach the Rams in there attempt to win 4 states in a row for the 2nd time.

Morris also coached the Bangor American Legion team to two state championships in 2014 and 2015 and a state runnersup position last summer in 2016.

What did Morris do, just lead the Rams to their fourth consecutive state class A baseball championship.

So all of Bangor’s baseball success since 1970 has been coached by former Bangor High graduates, former Bangor high baseball players and all who were coaching baseball in the Bangor school system when named the head coach.

So Bangor has always seemed to look to fill coaching positions from within first and if they had a assistant, JV, freshmen or middle school coaches that the AD’s thought could do the job they hired from within.

Since 1970 the 2 athletic directors (Barry and Vanidestine) have hired former Bangor baseball players for the head job and look how that has paid off in 13 state championships and 2 consecutive 4 year runs.

I know when I was AD at Bangor and John Bapst that I always tried to hire from within. I really looked to reward loyalty and if the coach was a former Bangor or John Bapst athlete or coach. the better the hire was.

AD Vanidestine, who replaced me (and I was a former Bangor High Basketball player 1952-55 and basketball coach from 1969-77) as AD in 1986, has also employed the same hiring philosophy and he has led Bangor to 68 of those 102 state championships over the years in his 30 plus years as BANGOR’s AD and the AD with the second longest consecutive years run as a Maine AD.

Bob Kelley is still positively effecting the success of the Bangor High Baseball program even though he has been retired for 17 years, former players of winning coaches usually use many of the things that they learned from their successful high school coach when they played in their coaching techniques when they go into coaching.

Bob Kelley is now the great-grandfather of successful Bangor High School Baseball seeing that two of his boys have won state championships since he left the program.