ROWLEY — Angelo "Junior" Dagres flipped through a scrapbook that includes memories of his professional baseball career yesterday in his Rowley home and could only shake his head in disbelief.
The Newburyport High alumnus, who will turn 74 tomorrow, struggled to remember the point in his life when he was widely considered baseball's top prospect.
"I can hardly remember any of this," Dagres said. "I couldn't have been drunk the whole time. Baseball was good to me, and I was not good to it."
Dagres' scrapbook reads like the first 21 years of a potential Hall of Famer's life. Before graduating from Newburyport High in 1953, the man who has since been elected to the Newburyport High Wall of Fame rewrote the record books for the school's basketball and baseball programs. In basketball, he averaged 32 points per game as a senior and set the record for career points with 1,350. In baseball, he hit .679 as a senior.
Naples, Fla. resident Doug MacBurnie was a senior captain on the Newburyport baseball team when Dagres was a freshman. MacBurnie hit .389 that season, second on the team to Dagres, who hit .434.
"All I can tell you is (Angelo) was the best there ever was coming out of Newburyport," MacBurnie said yesterday.
Dagres' ascent to the big leagues was swift. After rewriting the University of Rhode Island's basketball and baseball record books, he was signed by the Baltimore Orioles as a 21-year-old on Sept. 11, 1955. He played his first game the same day, registering an RBI when he beat out a potential double-play with a runner scoring from third. The best day of his professional career came Sept. 21, when he collected three RBIs in a doubleheader against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
By the end of the season, Orioles manager Paul Richards regarded Dagres as the league's top prospect.