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July 19,1989: Sports Lost A Young Star

Ramsdell Family Photo

25 years ago today, July 19th 1989, the sports world lost one of its promising young management talents when Jay Ramsdell died in the United 232 plane crash in Iowa.

Jay Ramsdell graduated from Mount Desert Island High School in 1982. At the time of his death in 1989, he had set professional sports history when he became commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association. Ramsdell was just 25-years-old. (Today the NBA Development League is similar to what the CBA was in the 1980’s)

Talk about working your way up the ranks – Ramsdell worked for the Maine Lumberjacks franchise in Bangor while his was a student at MDI. He kept stats, did public relations, and, anything else that was needed.

After high school Ramsdell went to Philadelphia to work in the CBA league offices only to return to Bangor to re-start a CBA team called the Maine Windjammers.

The team lasted just one year and Ramsdell returned to the league offices. He eventually became its commissioner at age 25.

111 of the nearly 300 people on board United Flight 232 on this day 25 years ago died in that fiery plane crash. Ironically, Jay Ramsdell was not supposed to be on the flight from Denver to Sioux City. And, even more irony, assistant CBA commissioner Jerry Schemmel and Ramsdell wound up sitting in each other seats. Schemmel survived the crash.

NOTE: One of the stars of the CBA at the time was Maine Lumberjacks player Billy Ray Bates. He got signed by the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers and was an instant hit with the team as you will see in this video…

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