Fort Fairfield honors a true team player — 55 years later

Delmar “Chappy” Clark and I have a lot in common.

My first high school basketball coaching job was at Fort Fairfield during 1961-1962 when I was just 24 and Chappy was the star player as a senior leader.

In his last high school game, he scored 36 points in a tough loss at Presque Isle and we narrowly missed the Class L (then the big-school class) tournament. His last two points in that game and in his high school career gave him 1,001 career points, but at the time we didn’t know he had reached that milestone.

Chappy was an All-Aroostook County second-team selection in 1960 and 1961 and a first-teamer and Aroostook County MVP in 1962.

He averaged 20.5 points per game his senior year and was a third-team selection on the Bangor Daily News All-Maine team.

The biggest win of his senior season was when Chappy helped us beat Stearns of Millinocket at its high school’s famous “Pit” in overtime in the opening game of the season.

Chappy went on to attend my alma mater, which was then Husson College, and we both have been inducted into the university’s hall of fame and are listed back-to-back on its roster.

From 1962-1965, Chappy played at Husson for Del Merrill, who was also my college coach.

Chappy left school for three years while serving in the military but returned for the 1968-1969 season to finish his college career during legendary coach Bruce MacGregor’s second season at Husson.

Both Chappy and I went on to score 1,000 career points at Husson, but like Chappy, who didn’t know of his 1,000-point achievement at Fort Fairfield, I didn’t know of my milestone at Husson until after my career was over.

Chappy didn’t know of the Fort Fairfield milestone until last Wednesday evening when, 55 years later, he was honored with a surprise ceremony before the Central Aroostook at Fort Fairfield girls game. Chappy, who is also a member of Fort Fairfield’s athletic hall of fame, received a plaque from Fort Fairfield officials that night for the 1,000 career points.

The recognition for Chappy’s 1,000 points was due to research on his career by former coach and longtime broadcaster Jim Carter of Presque Isle.

Chappy was a true team player. He was our best player in his senior season but was also a great team leader who treated his teammates graciously.

When he returned to Husson in 1969, he knew that he was not going to get the same minutes because he hadn’t played for three seasons and there were several outstanding players on that team, which went 22-3. However, Chappy accepted his role and coach MacGregor told me he was a great teammate and supporter coming off the bench.

I also coached baseball at Fort Fairfield and Chappy volunteered to catch as we had no one with any catching experience. He then asked if he could throw the shot put and discus for the track team and would often go between innings to take part in those field events.

He was 6-foot-3 and about 200 pounds, not a traditional runner’s physique, but in the fall the cross country team needed runners and he stepped up to do so because he was always about helping his school and teammates.

He was also very coachable and worked hard to improve his shot. He is one of the top 10 high school players that played for me and there are some real outstanding players on that list.

Chappy passed his outstanding basketball skills on to his two daughters who played at Central Aroostook and he now has a granddaughter and two grandsons playing there.

He is retiring as Blaine’s town manager at the end of this month and I wish him all the best in the years ahead.