Mariners, coaches, boosters hit cleanup at fieldOceanside field, former GVHS athletic venue receives facelift
Thomaston — In a cooperative effort, Oceanside High School baseball players, coaches and members of the Mariner sports boosters combined for a few hours of serious house cleaning on Friday afternoon, April 4.
The student-athletes and a slew of adults, which included athletic director Jim Leonard, team coaches, booster club members and supporters of the Mariner hardball program, performed several hours of spring cleaning, which included clearing and sprucing up the area in and around the program's field at Oceanside West.
Much of the work centered around the trees and bushes near a rock wall behind the first-base, or home, dugout. A small mountain of brush was cleared to open up the area.
Many other areas down the foul lines and near the outfield fence were cleared, with plenty of branches cut and bushes uprooted.
Oceanside head coach Don Shields said he has been coming to the field for years, previously as an umpire and more recently as a coach, and the work all did Friday made the field, which sits beside the Thomaston Little League, behind the Thomaston business block and between the current Thomaston Grammar School and former Georges Valley High School (now Oceanside West), look its best.
Shields said 27 of the 35 players in the Mariner baseball program were on hand to help with the cleanup. The reward for the players following the two-hour cleanup, for those who wanted to stay, was an opportunity to take batting practice outside for the first time this spring.
Mariner coach Shawn Hiller, a 2003 Georges Valley High School graduate who played on the same field back in the day, said he was proud of the effort from all to spruce up the field.
"This is 10 times better than it has ever looked," Hiller said. "It is a great field, it just needs some TLC (tender loving care)."
Two of the lessons learned by the student-athletes Friday was to take ownership of one's environment and that teammates can bond and work together to accomplish a goal in a non-athletic setting.
The field is one of the driest in the state as it is elevated, which helps it drain better than most. That is why the field was so often sought after by the former Buccaneers and the current Mariners, as well as high school and college teams around the state who have used the facility over the years to prepare for their seasons during the often wet, muddy Maine springs.
On Friday, in cold early-spring temperatures, all came together to give the decades-old field a significant facelift.
The infield was dragged and the old bleachers were ripped up — only the cement stanchions remain, but those will be removed in the coming months, said Leonard. Portable bleachers will be brought in to serve fans during the upcoming baseball season.
The current home plate area and pitcher's mound will be dug up at some point and redone, with bricks put in place below the ground and then clay and dirt put down to build the areas back up. Then the plate and rubber pitching slab will be reset.
The current dugouts at the field also will get a facelift at some point. "That is something that has been needed for a long time," Hiller said.
In the end, on Friday, the Mariners and others came and ripped, pulled, cut and carried debris to a huge pile behind home plate, which will be dealt with in the near future, said Leonard.
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Ken Waltz has been member of the media 30 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon.
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