It happens nearly every year around this time in parks all across America. We head out to our local Little League fields to watch the youngsters chase the hardball around and often notice how nice the grass looks or the fresh coat of paint on the snack shack. Yet we often forget to consider the hard work and time it takes to make those facilities look as spectacular as they do.
For most Little League fields around the country, the work to maintain and upgrade those fields is done by the work of volunteers. They spend countless hours sweating and doing backbreaking work, in sometimes awful conditions, to do a job they don't get paid for nor gain any recognition for.
When you head to ballfields at Bud Cross Park this spring you may notice new bullpens put in place next to the dugouts. As hard as it may be to believe, they didn't get there via the work of paid contractors or from city tax dollars. The work was done by, if you can believe it, teenage boys. This is the story of how this came to be.
Morgan Loring is a Boy Scout with local troop no. 32 in Brookings-Harbor. He has been Scouting since he was in the second grade and a Boy Scout since he was 11 years old. All that time and effort has him on the cusp of fulfilling a dream of becoming an Eagle Scout.
To become an Eagle Scout is no easy feat. One must put in time, effort and hours of practice and focus to complete the requirements of Scouting's highest honor. One must have a combination of 21 total merit badges, 11 of which are required. Once that is completed he must complete a project that benefits the community and exhibits leadership in seeing the task through to completion.
When Loring spoke with Tony Baron, the head of Brookings-Harbor Parks and Recreation, he asked if there were any projects he could take on for his Eagle Scout project. Baron provided the Brookings-Harbor High School junior with several options, but Loring said one project stood out among the others.
"He had a list of a few things, but this one stood out," said Loring. "We started in the middle of March and have been working on it ever since."
What Loring and his crew of fellow Scouts, friends and volunteers have been working on is adding brand new, fully-fenced bullpens next to each dugout on the baseball diamonds of Bud Cross Park.
The work has been tedious and arduous. Often Loring and his compadres worked in pouring rain that made getting the job done difficult.
"It's hard when it's pouring rain, of course," admits Loring.
"As we would dig holes for the fence posts they would fill up with water. We had to be careful not to fall where the holes were," said Ethan Warner, a fellow Scout who helps with Loring's project whenever he can.
When asked how he gets the work completed in such rough conditions Loring replies, "Wear your rain gear and just push through to get the job done."
Part of being a Scout and earning the title of Eagle Scout is putting the effort in to get the job done and to exhibit leadership the entire time.
"The whole point of it is that I show leadership in the project," Loring said. "We're not just working on the project out here at the fields; we're on the phones coordinating things, getting people together to come help."
On a weekday afternoon after school, Loring, his younger brother Spencer, and Warner work together to frame the fence on one of the four dugouts they are working on. They measure, level and cut pipe to create a framework for a dugout that Little Leaguers will be using for many years to come - a fact that is not lost on Loring.
"I think it will be cool if maybe, one day in the future, I bring my kids here to play baseball and they get to see what we built," said a prideful Loring.
Dennis Tippetts, who works for the Parks and Recreation department and has been coming out to guide the young men, summed up what Loring and his crew's efforts mean to the community.
"They've been doing a great job. Without volunteers like them, this stuff wouldn't get done."
So if you happen to feel like catching a ballgame at Bud Cross Park on a warm summer night, be sure to take notice of the bullpens and know the hard work by three young men that made it happen.