‘What's a community without a ball field?'
By Lyle Carter
There has been plenty of activity at the Great Village baseball field the past two summers, but it wasn't always that way.
"To look at this ball field a couple years ago, it was in pretty bad shape," said Mike Spencer, who was born and raised in the community. "It had small trees, brush and bigger trees 30 feet high growing in what once was the outfield. The infield was much like a hayfield with brush and small trees here and there."
Not surprising given that the field had pretty much sat idle since 1998.
"We decided that it was time something was done," said Mike, 38. "What's a community without a ball field?"
Added Logan Spencer, Mike's father: "
"Especially if you're a ball player and enjoy playing baseball."
A meeting was organized and a decision made to bring the ball field back in playable condition.
Initially, three or four other people came out to help, but within weeks the brunt of the job fell on the shoulders of Spencer, his father and family members.
"My wife Audrey pitched in," Logan said. "Audrey pulled trees with my old Cockshutt tractor. She picked rock, she carried brush, she did a little bit of everything."
The two Spencer children, Haley and Colby, as well as a couple of their friends also helped.
"I picked a lot of rocks," said Haley, 11. "We tried to make it smooth and nice like it once was."
As time went by though, the ball field began to take shape and last summer Mike Spencer began promoting a minor baseball league for players aged five to 13.
"The first year we had about 75 kids register," he said. "We associated with Baseball Nova Scotia in tee ball and mosquito."
The four older teams were the Londonderry Iron Jays, the Belmont Red Devils, the Debert Goldminers and the Great Village Tigers.
"The kids seemed to take the same approach that I did," said Mike, who coached the Tigers. "It didn't matter what the score in the game was or who was winning. We were all just happy we had a ball field in our own community. A ball field we could call our own. We were being given the chance we wanted to play a great summer sport."
The ball field's comeback story got even better this summer.
"There were 90 kids signed up to play," said Mike. "With so many kids we used both this ball field and the one in Londonderry. I guess I did a bit of everything. I coached and I kind of oversaw the league."
A bright spot was the number of parents who stepped up and volunteered to help coach teams.
Erin Totten became secretary and looked after the registering players and administration. Logan Spencer, 71, became groundskeeper.
"I drag the field during the day," Logan said. "I mow the outfield grass and put the lines down. I can't play ball any more and there should be ball being played. I love seeing my five grandchildren and all the others having fun. Baseball is great for these kids and it's only going to get better."
Registration has been kept very reasonable per child at $40. Some businesses and individuals have also made donations.
"The Doug Peppard Memorial Golf Tournament was our main source (of revenue)," said Mike. "Thanks to the annual tournament, in excess of $5,000 was given in Doug's honour. The ball field has been renamed the Doug Peppard Memorial Ball Field."
As he looked out at the sand infield, sturdy dugouts, a well-built backstop and a fenced-in outfield, Mike couldn't help but smile.
"I guess we've come a long way," he said. "It's been worth the effort."
Lyle Carter's sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.