Field of Dreams II Winner Announcement
Wednesday, October 5, 2005
Field of dreams: Pembroke wins ballfield prize
By JACK ENCARNACAO
The Patriot Ledger
PEMBROKE - It's about to get a lot brighter at Pembroke Little League Field B.
The announcement was made last night: Pembroke won Granite City Electric's ‘‘Field of Dreams'' contest. The prize: a four-pole, lighting system and installation, a package valued at $100,000.
The winner was announced during the second inning of NESN's broadcast of last night's Red Sox game.
When ‘‘Pembroke, Ma.'' flashed across his television, Little League President Steve Nagle says things went nuts.
‘‘I started screaming,'' Nagle said. ‘‘I got five kids who are just jumping around, my phone's ringing off the hook. People I haven't talked to in three or four years are calling.''
The lights will be installed at Field B on Mattakeesett Street, a diamond that often hosts games for 11- and 12-year-olds. Nagle said with the new addition, that will change.
‘‘Now with the lights we'll definitely have the T-ballers play there,'' he said. ‘‘We'll let all the kids try to have at least one game there. Have their name announced beneath the lights, with the ‘Star-Spangled Banner.' There's nothing better.''
The win was a bit of a comeback for Pembroke. In last year's inaugural Field of Dreams contest, the town had a healthy lead for weeks until Holliston rallied late to win the lights.
In last year's sweepstakes, the town that garnered the most e-mail votes won. Speculation floated about shady e-mail blasts and computer-generated votes. This year, Granite City changed the rules, awarding the lights in a random drawing.
To qualify for that drawing, a town had to garner 1,500 votes. After a manic campaign resulted in an epic letdown last year, it didn't appear Pembroke would even get the 1,500 votes heading into the final weeks of the contest.
By the time voting closed Wednesday, Pembroke had 2,394 votes, more than any of the other 40 towns in the running.
Pleas for votes had flooded local access television, newspapers and bulletin boards. Selectmen took time during their meetings to remind residents of the contest.
Fliers were posted at local businesses, including the Alumni Sports Cafe on Route 53, where dozens gathered last night to watch the game and hear the announcement of the winner.
‘‘When Pembroke flashed up on the screen, literally the whole restaurant started applauding,'' said Michael Tropeano, the league's fund-raising director. ‘‘I don't think there's enough adjectives to describe how happy I am.''
Tropeano said some of the real winners will be parents who commute to work in Boston and often can't get home in time to catch more than the last few innings of their child's games.
‘‘Now the games will be able to start later,'' he said. ‘‘It's going to afford us so many more opportunities.''
Nagle said the league needs the lights now more than ever as it has increasingly had to rely on volunteer fund raising to maintain the fields. Parents recently raised $15,000 for new dugouts and red diamond clay.
Nagle has already acquired a permit from the town to install lights on Field B. If Pembroke didn't win the contest, something much less majestic would have gone up, he said.
‘‘I've planned on doing one of the fields rinky-dink,'' Nagle said. ‘‘Now, we'll just do it professional.''
It is not clear when the lights will actually be installed, but they are not expected any later than June 2006. The Reflex Lighting Group of South Boston will donate the lighting hardware, and Sullivan & McLaughlin Cos., the light contractors for Fenway Park, will do the free installation.
Towns from New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut were finalists in the drawing. Kingston was the only other South Shore town in the running.
‘‘We are thrilled to know that youth baseball in Pembroke can now play under the lights,'' said Phyllis Godwin, owner of Granite City Electric in Quincy. ‘‘We all look forward to a grand celebration when the lights are turned on for the season's opening day.''
With visions of that inevitable night in his head, Nagle toyed with the idea of an even bigger milestone last night.
‘‘Now we just need the Red Sox to win it all,'' he said.
Jack Encarnacao may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2005 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Friday, September 30, 2005