Looking out at the expanse of neatly cut outfield grass and the newly reshaped infield at Father Martin Field, on Thursday night, you can sense what it was like in the summers of 1946-51 when the Ogdensburg Maples played in the Class C Border League.
Msgr. Harold Martin of Ogdensburg served as the first president of the Border League and was extremely active in the operation of the league throughout its short but very significant history. The Ogdensburg franchise in the league featured a top-flight minor league ballpark with a large grandstand and clubhouse at Winter Park.
Many years after the structures of the park were demolished, the Diocese of Ogdensburg renamed Winter Park as Father Martin Field.
Tonight at 6 p.m. a Maples team will play at Father Martin Field for the first time in 62 years as the Ogdensburg Maples meet Massena in a 17-Under game. The Maples youth baseball program was established in 1990 by Steve LaRose and the late Jay Cole and named The Maples after the last minor league baseball team to play in Ogdensburg.
It was always my dream for the Maples to play at Father Martin Field. It took 23 years but we made it and we are very excited, says LaRose who coaches the Maples along with Mike Wentworth, Randy Arsenault, Nate Minckler and Cavan LaRose.
The game will culminate the resurrection of baseball at Father Martin Field. The project included the refurbishing of the dugouts and backstop and the installation of netting which was purchased by the Ogdensburg Kiwanis Club, under the direction of Larry Mitchell. Another major phase of the renovation was the shaping of the infield with a new mound, home plate area and cutouts for the bases by Fred Badlam Jr. A professional level infield dirt mix, manufactured in New Jersey, was used to create the mound, the home plate area and the cutouts for the bases.
This simply would not have happened without Fred Badlam, Jr. After all, I asked him a month ago if it was possible and he told me that anything was possible. To see this field a month ago and see it tonight, the transformation is simply incredible. Fred is a talented and very meticulous; just the kind of person needed to bring this grand park back to its baseball roots. He also had a foreman, Andrew Spears, who was at the park every day to tell Fred what he was doing wrong, said LaRose.
Two hundred and fifty 50-pound bags of infield dirt mix was put in and put in right. The players have an excellent surface to play on.
An excellent surface in an ideal venue according to Coach Wentworth.
Everything is really nice and it is just great that it sits in a neighborhood setting, says Wentworth.
It has the feel of a ballpark already.
LaRose wished to thank several people who were instrumental in bringing the feel of a ballpark back to Father Field.
■John Pinkerton, who years before he was named City Manager, brokered the deal with the Diocese of Ogdensburg and the Knights of Columbus to even consider bringing baseball back to Father Martin Field.
■Larry Mitchell and the Kiwanis Club for purchasing the netting many years ago in hopes that the field would get to be used some day.
■City of Ogdensburg employees Matt Denner, Dale Donaldson and their crews for coming in on Thursday to help with the last minute details.
■Howland Pump and Supply employees who have taken the project on as the companyscommunity project.
Following tonights game the Maples will be home on Monday against Canton, Tuesday against Brockville and Wednesday against Ottawa.
MAPLES WIN OPENER
The Maples opened their season with a 7-2 victory over Ottawa on Wednesday.
Breton LaRose (4 innings), Alex Hayes (2 innings), Geoff Baldwin (1 inning) walked one batter apiece while combining on a seven-strikeout four-hitter.
The Maples made economical use of four hits to capitalize on eight walks and two hit batters to score one run in the second inning, two in the third, one in the fourth and sixth and two in the seventh.
Offensive contributions came from: Lefty Arsenault (triple, 2 walks, 3 runs scored),
Seth Pinkerton (run scored), Bryant Wentworth (run scored), Kinnon LaRose (single, run scored), Andrew Cole (single), Dakota Brady (single), Pat Cosmo (2 walks, run scored)
Other Maples players are: Jordan Miller, Chris Power, Connor Badlam, Jon Tayler.
It was nice solid start, we made some first game mistakes. I made more mistakes than the whole team did, said LaRose.
We have a nice mix of kids all who really love the game.