Harland Rowe (Portland (Maine) Evening Express & Advertiser, July 31, 1919)

Harland Rowe

This article was written by Kurt Blumenau

Harland Rowe (Portland (Maine) Evening Express & Advertiser, July 31, 1919)Harland Rowe served Connie Mack. He served his country in combat. And he served banking customers in his Maine hometown for 50 years.

The latter two accomplishments dwarf the first; Rowe was one of those players for whom pro baseball was more of a footnote in life than a defining highlight. His career consisted of 17 games as a yannigan with the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, one of the worst major-league teams of the twentieth century.1 By his 21st birthday, he had moved on to other things.

Harland Stimson Rowe was born on April 20, 1896, in Springvale, Maine, a village of the town – now city – of Sanford in the southern part of the state.2 At the end of the 2023 season, he remained the only former big-leaguer to be born in either Springvale or Sanford.3 He was the second of five children born to Hiram B. and Alberta (Stimson) Rowe.4

Hiram Rowe was a grocer at the time of his son’s birth, but by 1910 he’d entered the banking business as a founding director of the Springvale National Bank.5 News stories from the 1910s and ’20s describe Hiram as cashier with the bank; a cashier is an executive role responsible for a bank’s cash on hand, securities, and debts.6 At various times, Hiram served as a deputy sheriff; a member of Sanford’s board of selectmen and finance committee; the treasurer of Sanford’s Board of Trade; and a trustee of Nasson Institute, later Nasson College.7 Hiram and Alberta were active in civic and church organizations as well.8

Young Harland graduated in 1914 from Hebron Academy, a college preparatory boarding school about 70 miles north of Springvale, completing the school’s “Scientific Course.”9 Hitting leadoff and playing shortstop, he led Hebron’s baseball team to the unofficial championship of the state’s prep schools that spring.10

His parents had ordered the boy to focus on education, not sports, so he initially played baseball and track under the name “H. Stimson.” This deception ended when Hiram and Alberta visited Hebron on the day of a ballgame and caught their son in action. Henceforth he used his full name, along with the nickname “Hypie,” which stayed with him throughout his life.11

From Hebron, the younger Rowe moved on to the University of Maine. His athletic hesitancy discarded, Rowe went out for the baseball team as a freshman.12 He won the starter’s job at third base under coach Jack Phelan, even playing regularly in the season-ending state college championship tournament, in which Maine placed second.13

Rowe held his starting job as a sophomore in the spring of 1916 and turned in several highlights, including a game on April 30 against Bowdoin College in which he hit a 10th-inning single, advanced to third on two bunts, and scored the winning run on a wild pitch.14 His playing height and weight were listed as 6-feet-1 and 165 to 170 pounds.15

Former major-league infielder Monte Cross took over as Maine’s baseball coach for the 1916 season. That change shaped the future of several of his players, including Rowe.16 Cross’s last big-league manager, Mack, had sold off some of the stars from his 1914 American League championship team and seen others jump to the Federal League.17 The gutted A’s had finished last in 1915 with a 43-109-2 record, and attendance tumbled to 146,223, a season-over-season decline of 58 percent.

As part of his rebuilding strategy for 1916, Mack brought in promising collegiate players by the score. “Connie Mack will soon start his kindergarten for college, prep and high school boys,” mocked one news article from June, headlined “Connie’s School Kids Gathering.”18 Mack hoped to find lasting talent among the youngsters, but was up-front with fans about their growing pains: “They will make good, not today, tomorrow, or next months [sic], but eventually. … They will make misplays physically and mentally – I expect them to do so.”19 Signing collegians was also cheaper than pursuing veterans. One article pointed out that “some of the more promising of [Mack’s newcomers] cost only their carfare to Philadelphia.”20

Cross abetted Mack’s plan by steering several of Maine’s best players his way, including infielder Otis Lawry, pitcher Michael Driscoll, and Rowe.21 Other 1916 A’s recently departed from the college ranks included shortstop Whitey Witt and infielder-outfielder Lee McElwee of Bowdoin; outfielder-pitcher Red Lanning of Wesleyan University; infielder-outfielder Edward “Lee” King from the University of Massachusetts; pitcher Jing Johnson of Ursinus College; pitcher Walt Whittaker and catcher Ralph “Red” Carroll of Tufts University; pitcher Marsh Williams of the University of North Carolina; and pitcher George Hesselbacher of Penn State.22

How did they perform? Like collegians against pros, or boys against men. The 1916 Athletics finished with a record of 36-117 and one tie, their .235 winning percentage being the worst of any twentieth-century team. From the start of June through the end of September, they went 20-92. Attendance improved slightly, to 184,471, but was still second worst in the AL.23

Harland Rowe stepped into the muck on June 23, when the A’s had a record of 16-36 with one tie, already worst in the majors. Starting at third base against the Boston Red Sox, he went 1-for-3 in his debut, singling off Ernie Shore and fielding flawlessly in a 1-0 A’s loss. The rookie from Springvale collected a hit in each of his first three appearances, including a two-run pinch-hit double off Boston’s Rube Foster on June 26. Foster had thrown a no-hitter against the New York Yankees in his previous start on June 21.

Then Rowe ran into reality. He started at third for four games against the Yankees from June 28 to July 1 and went a combined 1-for-15, dropping his average from .375 to .174. He also committed a pair of errors in the June 28 game that contributed to Yankee run-scoring rallies. One Maine newspaper described it as “a rather disastrous day.”24

After July 1, Rowe spent most of his time on the bench, playing in three more games in July, five in August, and two in September. He collected only one more hit, against the Yankees on September 8, in a rainy game watched by no more than 25 paying fans.25

Rowe ended 1916 with 17 games played; 5 hits in 36 at-bats for a .139 average; one extra-base hit, the double against Boston; three RBIs; two walks and eight strikeouts. He fielded at an .842 clip as a third baseman but accepted his only chance as a right fielder flawlessly. Rowe had, at least, gotten more of a chance than some of his young mates. Driscoll and Whittaker made only one appearance each before being dismissed, while Hesselbacher appeared six times.

Mack thought enough of Rowe to re-sign him for 1917, and Rowe left college life in Orono, Maine, that March to attend the Athletics’ spring-training camp in Jacksonville, Florida.26 One correspondent noted that Rowe, a left-handed batter, “is fast getting down to first” and “is too strong at the bat to be turned away.”27 But turned away he was. Mack released Rowe in early April, reportedly because he lacked the “aggressiveness and fight” of his college teammate Lawry.28

Although he played 15 years of semipro ball back home in Maine, Rowe never played pro baseball again.29 Years later, Rowe’s son said that outcome was just fine with his father. “He was a real hometown boy and never really wanted anything more than to marry and live in his hometown,” Richard Rowe recalled. “I think he decided that the traveling and the salary were just not what he was looking for.” Harland Rowe pasted the official notice of his release into an athletic scrapbook, adding the handwritten words, “Good news.”30 Rowe also never went back to Orono to complete his studies at the University of Maine. He later confirmed that his education there had ended after two years.31

Harland Rowe joined his father at Springvale National Bank – but before he could settle down, World War I intervened.32 The younger Rowe enlisted as a private with Company A of the 101st United States Engineers on July 28, 1917.33 About a year later, while preparing for an expected German attack near Château-Thierry, France, he suffered the effects of mustard gas and was hospitalized. News reports indicated the effects were relatively slight, but they were significant enough for him to be sent back to the United States to recuperate. Private Rowe did not return to Europe before fighting ended in November.34 He was discharged from service on December 21, 1918.35

Rowe’s semipro career in Sanford included one additional appearance against a major-league team. On October 1, 1919, three days after the end of the regular season, Babe Ruth and the barnstorming Boston Red Sox traveled to Sanford to play a team of locals. Some 1,300 fans jammed the city’s Goodall Park, and local factories and stores closed for the day. Rowe banged a triple in three at-bats and scored a run. But Ruth, playing third base, stole the show with a three-run homer in the eighth inning to give Boston a 4-3 win.36 Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees about three months later.

With pro baseball and the military behind Rowe, the way was clear at last for the quiet hometown life he desired. In September 1923 he married Helen Sanborn in Springvale.37 Richard, their only child, was born three years later. Harland Rowe succeeded his father as first cashier of the bank, also serving as an assistant trust officer.38

Like his parents, Rowe was active in community organizations, including the Masons, the Order of the Eastern Star, veterans organizations, and the Mousam River Garden Club.39 He downplayed his baseball glory days: When approached for possible induction into the state’s baseball hall of fame, Rowe demurred, declining to participate.40

Rowe went into semi-retirement in May 1966 but remained involved with the bank.41 He had devoted 52 years of service to the institution when he died suddenly at his home of a coronary thrombosis on May 26, 1969, at the age of 73.42 He was survived by his wife and son, two siblings, and three grandchildren.43 Following services, he was interred at Riverside Cemetery in his hometown.

Rowe was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, thanks to a lobbying effort by a few old-timers who remembered him.44 He’d resisted that honor in life, but a questionnaire he filled out two years before his death suggested that he had positive memories of his baseball career. Asked whether he would play pro baseball again if he had his life to do over, Rowe responded in the affirmative.45



This story was reviewed by Rory Costello and Len Levin and checked for accuracy by SABR’s fact-checking team.


Sources and photo credit

In addition to the sources credited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org for background information on players, teams, and seasons. The author thanks the Giamatti Research Center of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for research assistance.

Photo from the Portland (Maine) Evening Express & Advertiser, July 31, 1919: 10.



1 “Yannigan” is an old slang term for a benchwarmer, second-stringer, or substitute. Popular in the early years of the twentieth century, it is archaic now.

2  Although Springvale is formally part of the city of Sanford, the city calls out the presence of the village in various ways. The Sanford city seal lists both names, as does the city charter. “City of Sanford/Village of Springvale Charter,” Sanford, Maine, municipal website, accessed November 2023. https://www.sanfordmaine.org/government/city_charter.php.

3 Former infielder Freddy Parent, born in Biddeford, Maine, moved to Sanford at age 16 and died there in November 1972, just shy of his 97th birthday. Dan Desrochers, “Freddy Parent,” SABR Biography Project, accessed November 2023. Parent and Rowe were teammates on a semipro team called Goodall Textiles, and also served together on the board of directors of a Sanford-Springvale youth athletics association. Blaine Davis, “Fred Parent’s Textiles Butchered Maine Foes,” Portland Press Herald, January 29, 1958: 13; “Sanford-Springvale A.A. Is Organized,” Biddeford (Maine) Daily Journal, May 21, 1937: 6.

4 The Rowes’ eldest daughter, Pauline, died in childhood in 1905. “News from Sanford,” Biddeford Daily Journal, November 20, 1905: 6. The family’s listings in the 1900 and 1910 US Censuses, also accessed via Familysearch.org, list all five children between them. Although a few online sources spell Alberta Rowe’s maiden name as Stimpson, other sources spell it Stimson, matching Harland’s middle name. Her obituary is one such citation: “Mrs. Alberta M. Rowe,” Portland (Maine) Press Herald, January 31, 1956: 9.

5 1900 and 1910 US Census listings for Hiram Rowe and family, cited above; also, “Springvale Bank Has Grown Steadily,” Sanford Tribune and Advocate, February 14, 1963: A2. The 1910 US Census describes Hiram as a “bank president,” which appears to be a slight overstatement but indicates that he held a leadership role. According to Hiram’s obituary, he was a grocer for 25 years. “Hiram B. Rowe, Springvale,” Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal, March 22, 1926: 2.

6 ”CASHIER Definition & Legal Meaning,” TheLawDictionary.org, accessed April 2024. https://thelawdictionary.org/cashier/.

7 ”Hiram B. Rowe, Springvale”; “Sanford Plans Big Time for State Board of Trade Meeting,” Portland (Maine) Sunday Telegram, September 13, 1914: 17.

8 ”Hiram B. Rowe, Springvale”; “Mrs. Alberta M. Rowe.”

9 “Commencement Week at Hebron,” Norway (Maine) Advertiser-Democrat, June 16, 1914: 2. Other options for Hebron students included the “College Course” and “English Course,” although completing a course other than the College Course did not preclude the student from going on to higher education.

10 “Hebron State Champs,” Lewiston Daily Sun, June 8, 1914: 7.

11 This story was told by Harland’s son, Richard Rowe, in Karen Jeffrey, “‘Hypie’ Rowe: Should He Be in Maine Sports Hall of Fame?” Biddeford (Maine) Journal Tribune, December 12, 1980: 9. Jeffrey’s story, while otherwise rich in information, does not detail the origin of the nickname “Hypie,” and the author of this biography could not find any other source to explain it.

12 “Maine Colleges Open Base Ball Season This Week,” Portland Sunday Telegram, April 13, 1915: Social section: 1.

13 Examples of box scores featuring Rowe include “Maine Wins Second Game of Series,” The Maine Campus (Orono, Maine), May 14, 1915: 1, https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4598&context=mainecampus; “Maine Easily Defeats Bowdoin by Score 9-3,” Maine Campus, May 21, 1915: 1, https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4599&context=mainecampus; and “Maine Loses to Colby,” Maine Campus, May 28, 1915: 3, https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4600&context=mainecampus. The Maine Campus is the student newspaper of the University of Maine. Rowe’s play was also praised in “Maine Takes Second Place by Beating Bates,” Waterville (Maine) Morning Sentinel, June 8, 1915: 8.

14 “First State Game a Maine Victory,” Maine Campus, May 2, 1916: 1. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4626&context=mainecampus.

15 Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference listed his playing weight at 170 pounds in November 2023. In a questionnaire filled out in 1967, Rowe listed his weight at 165, while agreeing on his height of 6-feet-1. The questionnaire is part of Rowe’s file at the Giamatti Research Center of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

16 Phil Williams, “Monte Cross,” SABR Biography Project, accessed November 2023.

17 Doug Skipper, “Connie Mack,” SABR Biography Project, accessed November 2023. The stars who either jumped to the Federal League or were sold by Mack included Eddie Plank, Charles Bender, Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, and Jack Barry. Mack’s Athletics did not truly rebound as a competitive force until 1925, when they finished second.

18 Kansas City Star, June 27, 1916: 8.

19 “More Collegians for the Mackmen,” Reading (Pennsylvania) News-Times, June 29, 1916: 9.

20 Robert L. Ripley, “The Builder,” Buffalo Evening News, September 18, 1916: 15.

21 Mack followed a similar strategy in the 1930s, when former A’s pitcher Jack Coombs – then coaching at Duke University – routed a sizable group of Duke ballplayers toward the Athletics.

22 This list is based on several news articles from May and June 1916 about Mack’s collegiate signings, as well as player listings in Baseball-Reference. It focuses on ex-collegians who made their debuts with the 1916 Athletics; it excludes a few veterans, like outfielders Jimmy Walsh and Shag Thompson and pitcher Weldon Wyckoff, who also attended college but entered the major leagues prior to 1916. News articles from the period also name at least two additional collegians – Jack Smith of Temple University and Floyd Kreps or Krepps of Tufts University – who reportedly tried out for the Athletics but are not listed in Baseball-Reference as having played a regular-season game. Stanley T. Milliken, “Tackle Mackmen in Series Opener,” Washington Post, June 20, 1916: 8.

23 The Washington Nationals were worst at 177,265 fans.

24 “Mack Sending Maine Boys to Firing Line,” Bangor Daily News, July 5, 1916: 12.

25 Multiple newspapers reported that 25 fans attended; a few indicated the number was even lower than that. The game was reportedly played because rescheduling it would have interfered with scheduled barnstorming appearances. One representative news story: “Yankees Entertain Twenty-Five Fans,” New York Sun, September 9, 1916: 12. Retrosheet lists attendance at the game as 50.

26 “‘Hypie’ Rowe Again Signs Contract with Connie Mack Team,” Portland Evening Express & Advertiser, February 12, 1917: 10; “Connie Mack Favors Trio Maine Boys,” Portland Evening Express & Advertiser, March 27, 1917: 10.

27 “Connie Mack Favors Trio Maine Boys.”

28 “Doings in Sporting World,” Portland Evening Express & Advertiser, April 4, 1917: 10. Lawry hit .164 in 30 games with the 1917 Athletics and returned to the minors. Although he had a string of excellent years with the minor-league Baltimore Orioles, he never got back to the majors.

29 Davis, “Fred Parent’s Textiles Butchered Maine Foes.”

30 Jeffrey, “‘Hypie’ Rowe: Should He Be in Maine Sports Hall of Fame?”

31 Questionnaire filled out by Rowe in 1967.

32 Harland Rowe is listed as beginning his bank career in 1917 in “Employees of Springvale Bank Honored for Service,” Sanford Tribune, June 12, 1969: 4.

33 “News of Sanford and Springvale,” Portland Evening Express & Advertiser, May 4, 1918: 13; US Department of Veterans Affairs master index record for Harland S. Rowe (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3M3-R3RM-4?view=index&personArk=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AW74B-WPN2&action=view), accessed via Familysearch.org in November 2023.

34 Various sources including “Sgt. McCann Tells of Overseas Service,” Sanford Tribune, October 31, 1919: 1; “News of Sanford and Springvale,” Portland Evening Express & Advertiser, October 19, 1918: 4; and “Wounded Men Here,” Baltimore Sun, October 18, 1918: 15. (Several articles describe Rowe as “wounded” or “slightly wounded,” but this appears to be a reference to the effects of the gas; there is no specific mention of Rowe being hit by bullets, shrapnel, or other projectiles.)

35 Department of Veterans Affairs master index record for Harland S. Rowe.

36 “Ruth’s Home Run Beats Sanford,” Portland Evening Express & Advertiser, October 2, 1919: 10; “Bambino’s Batting Downed Pros Here by One Point in 1919,” Sanford Tribune and Advocate, April 19, 1934: 3. Freddy Parent started at shortstop for the Sanford team. Ruth and Rowe had played against each other in the majors: Both men appeared as pinch-hitters in the Athletics-Red Sox game of June 26, 1916, in which Rowe collected a double and two RBIs.

37 Transcription of Maine marriage index, accessed through Familysearch.org in November 2023. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KCNK-Y74.

38  “Springvale Bank Has Grown Steadily.”

39 “Former Baseball Pro Dies at 73,” Portland Press Herald, May 27, 1969: 2.

40 Jeffrey, “‘Hypie’ Rowe: Should He Be in Maine Sports Hall of Fame?” Helen Rowe, who died in 1976, was approached about an induction after her husband’s death but also declined to participate.

41 Photo and caption of watch presentation, Sanford Tribune, April 28, 1966: 8. Springvale National Bank maintained its independence until 1979, when it merged with Depositors Trust Co. of Portland; the merged company has since become part of KeyBank. Leo Amato, “1979 Gains in Assets, Deposits at Depositors Trust of Southern Maine,” Portland Evening Express, February 9, 1980: Industrial and Financial Edition: 21.

42 Rowe’s death certificate is part of his file at the Giamatti Research Center of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

43 “Former Baseball Pro Dies at 73.”

44 “Harland (Hypie) Rowe,” Maine Baseball Hall of Fame website, accessed November 2023. https://www.mainebaseballhalloffame.com/post/rowe-harland-hypie-81. His former University of Maine teammate Otis Lawry was inducted in 1971, also posthumously; Lawry had died in October 1965.

45 Questionnaire filled out by Rowe in 1967.

Full Name

Harland Stimson Rowe


April 20, 1896 at Springvale, ME (USA)


May 26, 1969 at Springvale, ME (USA)

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