06/14/2006 3:49 PM
for immediate release: 14 June, 2006
New Ballparks Ready to Open at Brewster and Bourne Thursday
CAPE COD, Mass. -- The fog that is so familiar to Cape Cod Baseball League games will have two new fields to settle upon this year.
Players for the Bourne Braves and the Brewster Whitecaps will tie their cleats and trot onto entirely new diamonds on Opening Day 2006.
With another generous grant from the Yawkey Foundation, along with matching funds from the two franchises, the wheels were put in motion for these two new fields in 2004. Totaling $300,000, the Yawkey Field Improvement Grant was split between Bourne and Brewster.
The backyard of Stony Brook Elementary School in Brewster is where Cape League fans will find the new Whitecaps’ home. In the previous 17 years, the Whitecaps played behind Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich.
Several attempts were made to bring the team home to Brewster, but political hurdles and funding problems proved to be enormous hindrances in achieving that goal.
It was in 2002 that this idea got rolling in Brewster. Under the presidency of Gene L’Etoile, the Whitecaps began to focus their efforts on finding a suitable piece of land and raising money to begin the construction process. L’Etoile led the way, holding special events frequently at Whitecaps games, featuring special guests or having a fan-friendly theme at almost every game.
“My goal, as president, was to bring the community and the Whitecaps together,” said L’Etoile. “In my last year as president, we invited groups to every game and gave them a free hat, a free hot dog, a free Coke … We did that for two or three years and then the community really got around us and supported us.”
With the support of the Cape Cod Baseball League, the towns of Harwich and Brewster, Stony Brook Elementary School, and of course, the grant from the Yawkey Foundation, the organization was finally able to begin construction of a field in Brewster.
"It was the Brewster Whitecaps’ good fortune when Chester Robinson stepped forward and became a driving force in the quest for successful completion of the new field," said Dick Sullivan, chair of the CCBL Field Improvements Committee. The behind-the-scenes work of Robinson was essential in helping the project to its completion, once the Whitecaps decided on their dream site.
After looking at 10 possible locations, the Whitecaps settled upon the open area behind Stony Brook Elementary School. What used to be two deserted Little League fields now stands as a beautiful park that strives to be the best facility on the Cape. The field features a brand new, state-of-the-art scoreboard, a comfortable press box with PA system, a playground, and a picnic area for fans young and old alike to enjoy.
Originally, the field was to be ready for Opening Day in 2005, but due to delays in the excavation process among other things, the Whitecaps board decided to wait until 2006, giving the grass a chance to grow for the park’s inaugural season.
Now, after 17 years of trying to bring the Whitecaps home, four and a half years of planning, two and a half years of construction, and $450,000 in funds, the beautiful field at Stony Brook Elementary School is ready to help this year’s Cape League stars to shine, and hopefully to help the Whitecaps to turn things around after their fifth place finish a year ago.
The Bourne Braves look to do the same, striving to bring a championship home to their new park behind Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School.
“I think we’re due,” said Tom Fink, president of the Bourne Braves, in regards to his championship hopes for this season. “There is a lot of enthusiasm, and the players are absolutely delighted to be playing on this new field.”
Much like the Brewster field, Bourne’s new park features an impressive press box and a beautiful new scoreboard. The Braves’ home will also have seating areas where fans can set out their own comfortable chairs to watch the games. Four sets of bleachers will be included to accommodate other fans as well.
Some aspects of the park will not be entirely complete by Opening Day, but Fink was confident that they would be able to improvise and have everything up and running. The press box will be accessible and operational, though not entirely complete, and the concession stand will be able to hold food and supplies while the chefs cook outside on grills. The field, with its gorgeous brick dugouts and backstop, will be ready for play as the Braves open at home on June 15th.
“Retiring Bourne Superintendent Barry Motta's tireless, around-the-clock leadership efforts propelled the Braves to an 11th-hour and dramatic fulfillment of his version of a field of dreams,” said Sullivan, who was also quick to note the generous donations of Bourne contractor Lou Gallo, whose Gallo Construction made much of the creation at the new field possible. The unsung heroes of the project – people like Gallo and Motta – were the driving forces instrumental to the completion of both new fields.
For Bourne, this project has been all about connecting people—an aspect Fink feels is the purpose of the Cape League, whether it be to bring together players and scouts or fans and their favorite players. The construction process itself has been one of getting the community involved, as the field has been built from the ground up almost entirely by students from Upper Cape Tech.
The donated labor of the UCT students amounts to a huge help for the Braves and a major piece of curriculum for the school. Students who assisted in the construction process were able to learn skills such as carpentry and landscaping while they were aiding the project at every step.
The team expects all of the smaller details of the park to be finished for next season, after students from Upper Cape Tech have had another year to complete this massive school project.
Working with the Upper Cape Tech has been “phenomenal,” according to Fink. The school is also allowing the team to share some of its other facilities, like locker rooms. This generosity has helped the Braves to save a lot of time and effort.
“The Cape League is really a slice of Americana, which there are very few left today,” said Fink.
New parks like the ones in Brewster and Bourne help to keep the Cape League such a unique and attractive environment where players and fans alike can thrive alongside the game of baseball.
The Whitecaps and Braves continue bringing their communities and their teams closer together with even more events. Brewster will hold a homecoming celebration, featuring Wally the Green Monster at 2 p.m. on July 2.
The Braves are planning their own grand opening celebration on the Fourth of July, featuring events aimed at younger fans and the possibility of a wiffle-ball tournament.
On February 26, the Cape Cod Baseball League announced it had received another $300,000 Field Improvement Grant from the Yawkey Foundation. Once again, the grant was split between two teams, the Hyannis Mets and Falmouth Commodores. Rather than constructing new fields, both Hyannis and Falmouth plan to renovate their current parks with various improvements, not the least of which will be new and upgraded lights—an aspect Hyannis has had to live without for over 10 years.
Adam McGillen, CCBL Intern [email protected]