For over 40 years Fran Purnell organized, coached and managed the Waterville Little League program. Fran’s entire spring, summer nights and weekends were dedicated to building the baseball program to a level of excellence. Thousands of children learned the fundamentals of the game while Fran stressed sportsmanship and the importance of respect on and off the field.
Fran and his volunteers renovated the field on Mathews Avenue, in Waterville. He overhauled the infield and outfield, backstop, dugouts and snack shacks, installed a flag pole, PA system, remote scoreboard and field lights, built a storage area and press box and raised the pitcher’s mound to specifications.
In honor of Fran’s work and dedication the Matthews Field in Waterville was renamed the Purnell Little League Field.
In 1990 Fran started the “Challenger Division” so that children and adults with disabilities could flourish in the game. After 26 years Fran still plays an active role each and every Friday evening coaching and supporting the program at Purnell Field.
In gratitude and in honor of Fran’s unselfish commitment to the youth and families, the city of Waterville, along with the Alfond Youth Center, will renovate the Purnell Field to become a licensed Major League Baseball Turf field with an ADA surface to be called the Purnell Wrigley Field.
Whereas the City of Waterville is truly grateful for the important work of Fran Purnell, his family and the many volunteers, for improving the quality of life for so many of the city’s residents; Waterville Mayor Nicholas Isgro, on behalf of the City Council, recognized April 23, 2016, in honor of Fran “Mr. Baseball” Purnell as the official Fran Purnell Day during the opening ceremony of the 2016 baseball season.
Fran Purnell Day, honoring a man who gave 45 years of volunteer service to the Challenge Program (Kids with special needs) and the Cal Ripken and Little League baseball program. In his honor the Alfond Youth Center and the city of Waterville will be building the only licensed MLB ADA turf ballfield in New England – The Purnell Wrigley Field, named after the Chicago Cubs ballfield. Now, Central Maine will have the only two licensed ballparks in the country – Maine’s Fenway and Purnell Wrigley Field. City Councilor Sydney Mayhew and Mayor Nick Isgro read a proclamation of the Fran Purnell Day. Over 150 Cal Ripken youth players were on hand as well as some of Fran’s former players.
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