, Salem, MA

April 18, 2013

Peabody West to honor volunteers

By Jean DePlacido

---- — “If you build it they will come.”

Ten years ago a group of volunteers worked diligently to create a new Little League playing field at Lt. Ross Memorial Park (Cy Tenney). Since the time Peabody West has been enormously successful, dominating District 15 before being moved to District 16, winning a couple of state championships, and making that great run that ended at the Little League World Series in Williamsport in 2009.

But the project was undertaken to build a field that would benefit all youngsters enrolled in the Peabody West program and its certainly paid off over the last decade.

Tomorrow, some of the core group of volunteers, who put in countless hours of work installing the back field at the complex, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the 2013 season at 5:30. That kicks off a jamboree to celebrate the new season that begins two days later on Sunday.

“We started the jamboree last season which was our 50th,” said Peabody West vice president Ed Silva. “It will be a fun atmosphere with all the major league teams playing two inning scrimmage games. Our senior softball teams will also participate, and we encourage all the kids from tee ball on up to come down to the park that night.

“Representatives from the Navigators and their mascot will be there giving things away, and we’ll have face painting. Our sponsors will also be on hand. We wanted to recognize some of the guys, who were there back in 2003 helping to make the new field possible. We’re all volunteers in Little League, and everything is about passing on to the next group. We try to make it better for those coming along, and back in 2003 our volunteers did a great job with the field.”

Silva said it is more important than ever to have all the fields available for youngsters to use, especially since the softball program has become so popular. One of the goals 10 years ago was to have enough fields so everybody would be able to play at the same facility.

“There’s a lot of pride in our program,” Silva said. “We put up champion signs to recognize all the big achievements. It’s great we had folks that cared so much to do this project, and we want to have them be part of this year’s celebration.”

Scott Conrad had two boys go through Peabody West Little League. At the time the Field of Dreams became a reality his kids were too old for Little League, but that didn’t stop Conrad from playing a major role. He is chairperson of the Greater Boston chapter of the GE ELFUN Society which donated $1,000 to the project.

“My family had so much fun in Little League we wanted to give something back,” said Conrad, who also was the major force in getting a track record board installed in the fieldhouse at the high school a few years ago.

“The ELFUN Society was started at General Electric back in 1928 and over the years has helped with a lot of philanthropy work by giving money to volunteer projects like the Field of Dreams. Their thousand dollar grant went toward the lights at the field. We had many volunteers working so hard that day, from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. to get the sod laid. We are all so proud of what the kids, who play on that field have done. It’s hard to believe people like Frank Benea and Ed Aiello are still involved in the program. That’s a wonderful thing to have such dedicated people.”

On April 26, 2003, two tractor trailer loads of sod were delivered to Cy Tenney from a farm in Maine. The sod arrived at 6 a.m. and volunteers were on hand to lay the rolls of sod on the ball field. Outfield and sideline poles were set and fencing around the field was put up by the many parent volunteers.

Comak Brothers Landscaping Company helped put the irrigation system in, and Paul Dewsnap surveyed the field before the lights and base paths were set. Scott Aulson took charge of organizing the volunteers to keep things running smoothly, and inmates from the Middleton Correctional Facility were a big help in sharing the work load.

“For the kids was the motto,” said Conrad. “When Ed Silva offered to have us throw out the first pitch I started contacting some of the people that helped make it all possible. We’d love to have a few of the old core group back together on the 19th.

“Paul Pickard, Dewsnap, Jim Jeffries, Aulson, and Win Broughton were all part of that core team. We didn’t do it all in one day, but we did get an awful lot done. Everybody was so exciting to get the field rolled, and some of the guys kept on going until it got too dark to see.”