As Kevin Costner’s character learned in the 1989 baseball classic “Field of Dreams,” “if you build it, they will come.”
For Bellefonte Little League, however, the problem isn’t getting kids to come out to the field. With about 225 participants, 21 baseball teams and two fields, President Bill Carey says the league is growing. But with just two fields at Webster Field Complex in Spring Township, scheduling time for each team can be a challenge — especially with the record levels of rain the region’s experienced the past two years, he said.
“It’s an impossibility to get everything in,” Carey said. “And the unfortunate thing is that when you run out of field space, you end up robbing Peter to pay Paul, and it’s usually the younger kids who end up scrambling, trying to find another place to play.”
Luckily for Bellefonte’s sluggers, the community and local businesses like Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc., Sheetz, Bellefonte Family Dentistry and more have stepped up to the plate to help make the league’s dream of a third field become closer to reality.
State College-based GOH recently donated its services to engineer, design and lay out the field and surrounding components, excavate, grade and build the foundation of the field by spreading topsoil, as well as seeding all disturbed areas with help from Green’s Landscaping in Milesburg. Sheetz donated a new scoreboard for the field.
“It is our strong belief that you support the communities where you live, work and play,” GOH Executive Vice President Patrick Hawbaker said. “The new field will provide more opportunities for current and future generations to enjoy.”
Although, Carey said, talk about building another field at the Bellefonte borough-owned complex started about 20 years ago, efforts to make it a reality ramped up over the past two years. When he became BLL president in October, Carey started a capital campaign to help raise money for the new field —which he said could cost $125,000.
Since then, Carey has knocked on doors, met with businesses and even organized a rubber duck race in Talleyrand Park to help raise money for the effort.
“We’ve been talking about doing this field for a long time,” Carey said. “The fact that we got a partner like Hawbaker, people are starting to go, ‘Oh this is really going to happen.’ So people are really starting to pitch in.”
Despite all of the community support so far, Carey said there’s still plenty of work to be done before kids are playing on the new field. The next steps, Carey said, are to find more community partners to help draw up plans for and build the dugout and press box, and to install fencing.
Although he acknowledged the timeline was “aggressive,” Carey said he hopes to have the field in commission by next summer.
Beyond the benefits of added flexibility in scheduling and opportunity for youth athletes, Carey said he believes the impact of the additional field will be felt through the entire community with the ability to host tournaments.
“People are going to eat in restaurants, stay in hotels and shop locally for us,” he said. “So I think this is a big win community-wide if we can get this thing rolling.”
For more information on Bellefonte Little League’s Field 3 capital campaign, visit https://www.bellefontelittleleague.org.