Earlier this spring, the Marcus Whitman Youth Baseball program faced a dilemma — and working together, they solved it. The club had limited options for field space for their upcoming season of baseball and tee-ball. Because of capital projects at Marcus Whitman Central Schools over the next two years, they were unable to hold practices and games at their usual spaces.
So MWYB President Don Sutherland wrote to Rushville Mayor John Sawers to formally request use of the Warren Street Park for practices and games. Sawers later said the park had become a hangout for undesirable activity rather than an asset for the village. There was once a maintained ball field there and the old backstop was still in place. But Sawers said, “I’ve lived here for over 30 years and I’ve never seen a game played there. Years ago when Comstock’s (canning factory) was still in operation, some local teams would play the Puerto Rican workers, but that was before my time.”
Sutherland organized a team of volunteers — mostly parents of players — to build a pitcher’s mound, excavate for a new infield lining, foul poles, and protected team benches. Other people involved are MWYB board members Fallon Mitch, Will Guadalupe, Aimee Marin, Mahalee Glitch, and Charlie May. All they asked of the village is the routine mowing of the grass. They also got permission to raise additional funds through a concession stand on gamedays.
“Our costs are not finalized yet,” says Sutherland, “but I can say that previous to the beginning of the build we had a positive cash flow but since then we are close to negative with every little cost we find. Our biggest expense was the dirt fill. It is a sand and clay mix and we had to purchase almost 130 tons of it in order to make the surface safe and flat. I would estimate we will in the end spend close to $11,000 in total.”
MWYB has four tee ball teams consisting of 8-10 kids per team, and three older divisions of 8U (Rookies), 10U (Minors) and 12 U (Majors). They play in a coed Finger Lakes League with other teams from Red Jacket, Pal-Mac, Midlakes, Newark, and Honeoye.
The season began with away games last Monday, but their first home game on the new field with the 10U Minors playing Midlakes was Saturday, May 11. The field was getting its final touches to be ready right up to gametime, but with the help of volunteers and Reale Fence Solutions, MWYB’s opening day was a success.
It began with a big parade at 11 a.m. around the park so the kids could show off their new uniforms to their family and friends. Every team played that day, and their excitement was evident. As the National Anthem played, an Honor Guard detail from The American Legion Post #256 in Canandaigua raised the flag on the new pole they donated (along with the new foul poles), and Mayor Sawers was given the honor of throwing out the first pitch.