by Mark Huard
Central Maine Photography
On April 29 Purnell Wrigley Field, in Waterville, joined the Harold Alfond Fenway Park, in Oakland, as the only two licensed replica turfed fields in the country.
CEO Ken Walsh, of the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA at the Alfond Youth Center said, “These fields give kids the opportunity to feel like real Major League players! The turf not only gives everyone the chance to play but extends the baseball season here in Maine, giving kids more time to develop their skills and learn sportsmanship while playing the game they love. The Purnell Wrigley Field is truly a grass roots community project built on the support of many and varied contributors of monetary and in-kind gifts. It’s a wonderful project honoring the legacy of some terrific ‘home town’ heroes.”
Fran Purnell and his volunteers of 48 years were recognized along with the many sponsors who helped contribute to building the field. Over 100 youth Cal Ripken baseball players and coaches attended this special celebration to kick off the 2017 baseball season. The Challenger team players developed by Fran Purnell in 1990 will also be celebrated. Former Cubs and Red Sox Major League Baseball player Lee Smith joined and threw out the first pitch and signed autographs for all of the kids and fans!
The new turf field has a 30-foot replica Wrigley scoreboard, new press box, concession stand and bathrooms. The dugouts have 24-foot murals of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series along with a new lighting system. Thankfully, $600,000 of the $1.4 million project were in-kind gifts from the surrounding community. The project was in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA at the Alfond Youth Center and the Waterville Park & Recreation Department.
A new book “Fields of Dreams” is now available describing the development of the replica MLB parks. All proceeds go to the field. Purchase through Amazon or AYC.