Rookie mistakes morph into happy memories at Tucker White’s hall of fame induction

The broad shoulders, the grizzled beard, the dark sunglasses. Tucker White showed up to his hall of fame induction looking like the definition of a star baseball player. He didn’t start out that way.

White played his rookie season at the University of Southern Maine in 2010. On the opening day of practice, he rolled up to the field on a scooter. Strike one. And the shorts he was wearing were better suited for swimming than baseball. Strike two. Fourteen years later, he still chuckles at the way that Coach Ed Flaherty first greeted him.

Tucker White flashes his new LEC Hall of Fame ring.
Tucker White sees how the new ring looks on his finger.

“‘Tucker, where are your pants?’” White said in his best Flaherty impression, then reverted to his own natural voice. “I thought we got pants. That’s when he told me I had to make the team first to have pants for tomorrow. So, I had to go down to the Olympia Sports and buy some pants.”

Being back on campus had White feeling waves of nostalgia. He returned on April 27 to receive his commemorative ring as a new member of the Little East Conference (LEC) Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place on Ed Flaherty Field in Gorham during the intermission of a doubleheader.

Flaherty served as host of the ceremony. He got laughs from the crowd by telling his own version of White’s first practice. But Flaherty grew more sincere as he described what happened next.

“Tucker developed into what I consider the best hitter in the nation during his years here,” Flaherty said. “He worked hard at it both in the weight room and technique-wise.”

White posted a .359 career batting average with 251 hits, 171 runs batted in, and 22 home runs. His last year with the team was also his best. His batting average in 2013 was .400, and he extended nearly 40 percent of his hits for extra bases. The American Baseball Coaches Association named him 2013 Division III National Player of the Year.

“He had a great swing with a slight open stance that he used as his timing mechanism,” Flaherty said. “He worked hard at hitting the ball to all fields.”

White summed up his success more simply: “Honestly, it was just kind of ‘see ball, hit ball.’”

That minimalist approach also applied to public speaking. When his big moment arrived, White didn’t make a speech. He simply nodded to the crowd as he stepped forward to accept his ring at the pitcher’s mound. White said his thanks quietly over handshakes with Flaherty and Director of Athletics Al Bean, then promptly returned to the sidelines.

More handshakes awaited White as the current team of Huskies formed a receiving line to congratulate him one at a time. Whatever sheepishness he felt as the center of attention seemed to disappear once he was surrounded by fellow players. His own teammates were never far from his mind.

“I had a great team around me. I was able to see hittable pitches because of the guys that hit behind me,” White said. “Take me out of that lineup we had in ’13 and guys wouldn’t really pitch to me, and I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did.”

The 2013 team was especially memorable. The Huskies won the LEC Championship and the NCAA Division III New England Championship, and they finished second in the NCAA Division III World Series. Even surrounded by so much talent, White stood out.

“He was the ringleader of the 2013 team,” Flaherty said.

Tucker White receives his LEC Hall of Fame ring from Coach Ed Flaherty and Athletic Director Al Bean.
Coach Ed Flaherty and Director of Athletics Al Bean congratulate White on his LEC Hall of Fame induction.

White made periodic returns to campus in the following years. He completed the remaining credits to earn an Exercise Science degree in 2017. In 2020, he was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame, and the LEC Hall of Fame came calling four years later.

White didn’t mind sharing his latest moment with the coach who had done so much for him. Flaherty had previously announced plans to retire at the end of the year. The University scheduled events to honor him and White on the same day. Flaherty’s event was held before the double-header while White’s event was held during intermission.

Flaherty set the tone for the program and surrounded himself with assistants to execute his vision. White praised the guidance he received from the coaching staff. In particular, he worked closely with the late Vinnie Degifico on hitting and with Bob Prince on defensive skills.

“They all pushed me,” White said. “I think they could see what I could develop to and they pushed me to achieve that.”

White melted into the crowd at the end of the ceremony and settled into his seat for the game. The Huskies did him proud by beating Vermont State University Castleton, 9-8.