Friday, August 16, 2013

Volunteer keeps Lowell Farm Field pristine - By Elizabeth Richards

Windham Little League’s Lowell Farm Field is a real life “field of dreams,” due in large part to retiree Bill Ciccarone, who volunteers countless hours every week making sure the field measures up to his high standards.

From April until mid-August when the season ends, Ciccarone is at the field seven days a week doing regular maintenance tasks as well as larger projects. On game days he arrives around 2 p.m, and gets home around 8 p.m. On Saturdays, when there are four games, he is at the field from about 6:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Ciccarone began working on the field when his grandson played Little League. That grandson is now 21. “He left, I stayed,” said Ciccarone. “This gives me something to do. It keeps the mind going, it keeps the body going, and I take pride in it.”

That pride is evident in the appearance of the field and all the special touches he adds. Ciccarone greets teams as they arrive at the field, and goes the extra mile to make everyone feel welcome. Umpires are treated well. Coaches are not expected to do anything to the field so they can spend the time with the kids. He has a sign made up not only for the Windham teams, but for every team that plays on the field, which is placed above their dugout.   At the beginning of each game he plays the national anthem, and then announces the names of each kid in the batting order.

Every year, Ciccarone finds some kind of improvement to make at the field, which was nothing but a simple grass field when he began. Over the years, improvements have included putting in a batting cage with electric pitching machine, gates that lead right into the dugouts, drainage ditches in the outfield and infield, a warning track in the back, and a snack shack with real bathroom. And that’s just a few.

In the winter, said Ciccarone, he plans what he’s going to do at the field in the spring. “The reason this field stays looking so nice is the fact that it gets attention from April through November,” he said. Though the season just ended, he’s already beginning to think about what he’s going to do next year to make things better, he said. Maintaining the field is his hobby, and he said he dreads the day when he won’t be able to do it anymore.

“When [the field] is set up for a game, it rivals anything,” said Ciccarone. Parents tell him their children get very excited when they know they will be playing at Lowell Farm Field. “It’s making them feel like it is special to come here,” he said. He said they like to bring the Minors, who don’t normally play there, to the field for a couple of games a year so they know what they have to look forward to. “They feel like they’re going to Fenway compared to what they’re used to playing on,” he said.

Ciccarone’s dedication is appreciated by those who attend games at Lowell Field. A few years ago, he was presented with a sign that reads “Home of Bill Ciccarone,” which now hangs on the score booth. “What means the most to me is after a game, when I have a whole team walk over and say thank you. What more can you ask than that?” he said.

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