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Former Yankees pitcher to sing at La Rencontre

Auburn resident and baritone Larry Gowell, who once pitched for the New York Yankees, will perform at the Franco Center’s next “La Rencontre” French-language luncheon on Friday, May 3.

Auburn resident and baritone Larry Gowell, who once pitched for the New York Yankees, will perform at the Franco Center’s next “La Rencontre” French-language luncheon on Friday, May 3.

The Franco-American Heritage Center will host its next “La Rencontre” French language luncheon on Friday, May 3 at 11:30 a.m. The meal will feature of a choice of lobster roll or chicken salad roll, along with macaroni salad, chips, pickles and a cookie for dessert.

Following the meal, Auburn resident and baritone Larry Gowell will perform for patrons in the Franco Center’s Performance Hall. He will be accompanied on at least one song by chanteuse Joëlle Morris, a native of France who currently resides in Winthrop and, like Gowell, has become a favorite of Franco Center audiences.

Gowell will be trailed by a camera crew from “Bill Green’s Maine,” a program that airs weekly on WCSH-TV. The program’s producers are capturing footage to tell the story of Gowell’s life and unique place in baseball history.

While Gowell’s career as a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees lasted only three games at the very end of the 1972 season (his career record was 0-1 with an earned run average of 1.29), Gowell was the last starting pitcher in the American League to get a hit during the regular season before the designated hitter rule was enacted in 1973. Since the advent of the designated hitter rule, pitchers – who are usually weak hitters – no longer bat in American League games.

The ball that Gowell hit for a double off Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jim Lonborg on the final day of the 1972 season resides in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

All are invited to attend La Rencontre, but reservations must be made in advance by calling the Franco Center at 783-1585 no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, April 29. The cost to attend is $7, which includes the meal and the entertainment.

Patrons are encouraged to speak only French during the meal in Heritage Hall, which is accessed on the Oxford Street side of the building. In a spirit of fun – and as a way of reminding patrons of the language discrimination that French speakers once faced in Maine – those overheard speaking English may choose to pay a quarter fine or “buy” the right to speak openly in English for one dollar.

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