The sports world lost one its best young stars 25 years ago

For the past few days I’ve been trying to come up with a word to best describe Jay Ramsdell.

The Mount Desert Island High School kid who would go on to set pro sports history as the youngest commissioner in sports.

Jay Ramsdell was named commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association on October 1st, 1988. He was three months shy of of his 25th birthday.

This past Saturday marked the 25th year mark of his tragic death in that ill-fated plane flight from Denver to Sioux City, Iowa.

Jay was one of the 111 people killed on that runway in Iowa. Nearly 200 people miraculously survived.

The sports world lost a real up-and-comer that day.

I think I found the word to best describe Jay Ramsdell.


The dictionary defines spunk as someone with…courage, guts, nerve, spirit, guts, pluck, grit, toughness, mettle, gumption.

I think he had more spunk than anyone I have ever covered as a reporter.

I remember this spunky high schooler who was in charge of press row at the Bangor Auditorium during Maine Lumberjacks games. He about 16 years old. He acted like he was 36.

I remember a few years later when he was in charge of the second CBA Bangor team, the Maine Windjammers. I remember the day I reported on my TV sportscast that the ’Jammers would be folding because of finances.

Full of spunk, Jay Ramsdell went back to work for the CBA league offices. Ask anyone in the league, they would tell you Jay Ramsdell ran the CBA, long before he became commissioner.

I remember I could never figure out why he loved the CBA so much. It seemed like a league filled with players and coaches who wanted to be anywhere but the city they were in. They all thought they should be playing in the NBA.

Billy Ray Bates. Cheese Johnson. Coach Mauro Panaggio. Jackie Dorsey. Wayne Kreklow. Sidney Lowe. Coach Phil Jackson….some CBA’ers made it to the bigs, most did not.

You needed to have some spunk to handle life in the CBA.

Check out the dictionary. Look up the word spunk. You will see a picture of Jay Ramsdell.


— There will never be another No. 5. John Winkin was baseball…baseball was John Winkin.

— I think I’ll try to buy that house just behind the 15th hole at the Royal Liverpool golf course. Did you see that place on TV during British Open coverage? Located just behind the 15th tee box with Liverpool Bay of the Irish Sea on the other side! Think 150-grand would get it done?

— Speaking of golf, you can watch the next Sean O’Hair or Keegan Bradley this week at Bangor Muni…The 48th Greater Bangor Open is fun to watch and you can’t beat the price to watch – free!

—  Anyone notice the #1 overall pick in the June MLB draft, LHP Brady Aiken, did not sign with the Astros when the deadline came and went last Friday…hasn’t happened since 1983.

—  UMaine baseball can rejoice, Hartford’s LHP Sean Newcomb signed with the Angels and gives up his senior year in America East…The #13 overall pick gets a signing bonus of $2,518,400.00. Cha-Ching!

— American Legion baseball Zone 1 tourney begins Wednesday with live coverage on Sports Radio 92.9 The Ticket!