Jaywalking: Green(field) Monster?

  • Franklin Tech huddles up before halftime as an injured player is taken off the field by ambulance during their game against Lee on Saturday in Turners Falls. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

Monday, September 18, 2017

Rumors were swirling through Greenfield last week that its treasured youth baseball facility, Lunt Field, was losing a field.

Field No. 3, otherwise known as the field closest to the Franklin Recovery Center (former Lunt building), is getting a new field thanks in part to a donation being made by its neighbor. The result is that the Greenfield Minor League is going to have a “Mini-Fenway” park, complete with its very own Green Monster. The league is hoping that the project will be completed by the start of the 2018 season.

According to GML President Bobby Campbell, the decision to build a Mini-Fenway began as a result of the Recovery Center, which, according to Campbell, approached the league about possibly building some sort of wall alongside the existing field as a way to further separate the youth sports facility from the detox center. Call it a goodwill gesture.

The league took the idea a step further when it decided that rather than put up some sort of wall, why not incorporate a wall right into the field by building a Mini-Fenway, not unlike the one in Belchertown.

“It was a nice gesture by the Recovery Center,” Campbell said. “Our main goal is to give kids the opportunity to play baseball at a beautiful facility.”

The price tag associated with building a Mini-Fenway is $140,000, according to Campbell, who has already had blueprints drawn out, as the league moves ahead with the project. The Recovery Center is donating a chunk, but will not be footing the entire bill. Instead, the league is going to be soliciting sponsorships from local businesses to raise money. All the details of the sponsorships have not been finalized, but for a price, local businesses will have an advertisement on the wall. Campbell did say that any business interested in advertising should contact him at 834-4222.

“We have 200 kids using our facility throughout the year, and we also invite other teams to scrimmage, plus we host tournaments,” Campbell said.

Campbell said that Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin has been a huge proponent of the new field and is also working with the league to raise the money to pay for the project.

The result will be small replica of the historic Boston ballpark, which will include a 25- to 30-foot left-field wall. That, combined with the two existing fields, should give Greenfield one of the nicest facilities in western Mass.

“I think one thing you can say about the Greenfield Minor League is that the landscaping is beautiful,” Campbell said. “Our goal is to be able to give kids a unique experience and to make it exciting to play at our fields, and that’s what this is doing.”

It was 26 years ago when local people and businesses donated time and money to help the town build Murphy Park, one of the most beautiful youth softball complex’s in western Mass. It’s not nearly the same size project as that massive undertaking, but hopefully people can come through to give the town a new ball field.

I have been racking my brain for a few days to see if I could come up with a more improbable football win in my 11 years of covering the sport at The Recorder than Greenfield High School knocking off Frontier Regional School Friday night. I have seen some incredible games — I can think of Turners Falls’ epic comeback in last year’s WMass championship game, as well as a handful of Turkey Day contests — but I cannot remember a bigger upset than what the Green Wave pulled off.

That’s not to take anything away from the Green Wave, but Frontier was thought to the be top dog when it came to local football teams. We all knew Greenfield was more dangerous than it was a year ago, but that only meant that the team might compete for second or third place in the Intercounty League North Division.

With the win over Frontier, the Green Wave has squarely placed itself in the hunt for not only the league title, but the western Mass. Division VIII playoffs. If Owen Phelps and RJ Byrd can continue to lead the offense, and the defense can continue to play as well as it has through two weeks, we could be in for some exciting times in Greenfield.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing from Friday’s game? According to several people, Veterans Memorial Field was packed with fans. Nice to see the town getting behind its football team.

Speaking of football, some scary times at the Franklin Tech football game on Saturday in Turners Falls, where a pair of players had to be taken away in an ambulance, and one was even Life-Flighted to Worcester.

Lukas Bird and Justin Farrick, both of Franklin Tech, found themselves in the hospital on Saturday. Bird was the first to get injured, but thankfully, according to head coach Joe Gamache, as of Sunday night it looked like Bird had suffered a deep leg-bone bruise.

Farrick was the second player to go down. His situation was much more scary. After going down, Farrick could be seen vomiting on the field and paramedics had to cut his uniform and pads off his body. He was rushed to Baystate Franklin in Greenfield, before getting taken by helicopter to Worcester.

Farrick was diagnosed with bruised ribs, a concussion and heat exhaustion, which is probably a favorable diagnosis considering the scene.

“It’s probably the scariest thing I’ve ever been involved with in football, and I was extremely worried about his well-being,” Gamache said. “I stayed in contact with his family the entire time, and late Saturday night they got the diagnosis. He went home Saturday night.”

A quick recovery to both student-athletes.

Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is jbutynski@recorder.com. Like him on Facebook and leave your feedback at www.facebook.com/jaybutynski.