By the end of this summer, young baseball players should have a new diamond to hear the phrase “play ball” on thanks to the efforts of the Hamburg Rotary Club and the Town of Hamburg Recreation Department.
In the fall of 2012, the Hamburg Rotary Club began talking with the town about the idea of building a diamond at the Nike Base, said Hamburg Rotary Club member Kent Hilton.
“We were looking for a field,” Hilton said.
What resulted was what was essentially the continuation of a project that began in 1999, when the Rotary Club built the “Rotary 1” field at the Nike Base. That field is a regulation size field that is 60-feet from the pitchers mound to home plate, and 90-feet from home plate to first base.
According to Hilton, it was built with the intention of “two backstops to be completed later.”
After discussions with Martin C. Denecke, director of youth, recreation and senior services, the Hamburg Rotary and Town of Hamburg decided to join a growing trend in little league baseball and seek to construct a medium sized baseball field. This would mean the pitching mound to home plated would be 50-feet and from home plate to first base would be 70-feet.
According to Hilton, the diamond, which is expected to be called “Rotary 2,” would be 225-feet in left and right fields and 250-feet to center field.
These are being built for those ages 11 and 12. The regulation sized diamonds are for players ages 13 and 14.
A reason for this, said Denecke, is because it is a much more difficult transition for young baseball players moving from a traditional little league sized field – 46-feet by 60-feet – to the larger diamonds.
“It gives us a niche,” Hilton said about the idea of “graduating” from the Rotary 2 diamond to Rotary 1.
“It’s a huge transition,” Denecke said.
The Hamburg Rotary Club has committed to paying at least $7,500.
“We called it a collaborative effort,” Hilton said, noting that the Rotary has been successful in soliciting sponsorships to help cover the costs of the field.
“The town will cover any expenses after Rotary funding, plus in kind services,” Denecke said.
Costs for the project will cover fences along the base lines, outfield fencing and building dugouts, which Denecke said is a combination of fencing and concrete padding.
Hilton added that breakaway bases are also being installed as a safety measure for the players. There will also be a self contained on deck area to provide further safety.
The overall design of the project is similar to one that Rotary members saw in Lewiston.
Hilton said the Hamburg Rotary is thankful for the significant sponsors who have assisted, including Jim Loomis of Loomis, Offers and Loomis, Uncle Joe’s Diner, Evanhouse Printing, Stericycle, Waste Management, West Herr Group, Omega Health and Wellness Health Club and the Hamburg Rotary Club.
According to Hilton, the grant money from the Rotary is a combination of Hamburg and International Rotary.
The names of the sponsors will be recognized on a banner that will be hung on the homerun fence of Rotary 1.
Also, Hilton said there have been many individual donations that the club is thankful for.
Denecke believes the diamond will be built “sometime in the summer,” with a goal of getting it completed by Aug. 1.
The Hamburg Rotary intends to stay active with little league even after the field is completed.
“We will have an annual tournament out here for both age groups,” Hilton said, adding the target to start the tournament will be beginning in 2014. “All the proceeds will go back to the field or the project or whatever we’re doing at that time.”
The deadline for any business or individual looking to donate or become a sponsor is May 15.
For more information, either call Hilton at 359-0357 or call the Town of Hamburg Recreation Department at 646-5145.