GOOD TIMES — Town of Hamburg officials, members of the Rotary Club of Hamburg and baseball players dedicated the new Rotary 2 baseball field Aug. 30 at the Hamburg Recreation Center. Pictured, from left, first row: baseball players Brett Hilton, Brad Kellner, Matt Kellner, Ryan Hilton and Matthew Hilton. Second row: Earl Knauss, Dave Evans, Kent Hilton, baseball project manager and past president of the Rotary Club, Tim Hoelscher, Rotary president, Jim Kellner and Lisa Kellner, all members of the Rotary Club of Hamburg’s Baseball Project Committee, and Steven Walters, Hamburg town supervisor, Martin Denecke, director of the town Department of Youth, Recreation and Senior Services, Tom Best, senior superintendent of Buildings and Grounds and Rick Nowak, buildings and grounds foreman. Missing from photo: Rotary Baseball Project Committee members Jack Flint and Cindy Taylor.
The Rotary 2 baseball field has sprung to life on the grounds of the town of Hamburg Recreation Center (former Nike Base) at 2982 Lakeview Road, thanks to a fund development by town officials and a partnership with the Rotary Club of Hamburg.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Aug. 30 to officially dedicate the new Rotary 2 baseball field developed close to Rotary I, which was constructed in1999 with Rotary assistance.
The new baseball diamond is smaller than Rotary I, which is regulation size, 60 feet from the pitcher’s mound to home plate and 90 feet from the home plate to first base. This new field is medium-sized and meant to transition players ages 11 and 12 to the larger regulation size field, which can accommodate players aged 13 and 14.
The lead organizer on the project for the Rotary Club is member and immediate past president Kent Hilton, who has been active in the club and a coach in college level and youth sports.
Hilton said that the Rotary Club and the town decided to go with a trend in youth league baseball, in constructing a medium-sized field, with the distance between the pitching mound and home plate to be 50 feet and 70 feet between home plate and first base. She noted that the new diamond is 225 feet in the left and right fields and 235 feet to the center field.
“This is a great partnership for the town and fits right in with our objective to enhance our recreation facilities at no additional cost to taxpayers,” said town of Hamburg Supervisor Steven Walters. “Rotary Field II fills a need for young baseball players to move up easily from Little League.”
“The traditional youth league baseball field is 46 feet by 60 feet, so going to the regulation size field was a gigantic leap,” explained Martin Denecke, director of the town of Hamburg Department of Youth, Recreation and Senior Services.
The Rotary Club made an initial pledge to provide at least $7,500 toward the effort, with the town providing labor and other services. To fulfill that pledge, the club donated $2,000 and obtained a matching grant from Rotary International, seeking corporate sponsors whose banners would be hung on the home run fence of Rotary Field I.
Major sponsors include the Rotary Club of Hamburg, Loomis, Offers and Loomis, Sigma Financial Corporation, Kirst Construction, Benz & Associates, LLC, Uncle Joe’s Diner, Evenhouse Printing, Northern Chautauqua Catholic School, Waste Management, West Herr Group and Omega Health & Wellness. A number of individuals also donated to the effort, Hilton said.
Along with Hilton, members of the Rotary’s Baseball Project Committee are Lisa Kellner, Cindy Taylor, Dave Evans, Jack Flint and Earl Knauss. Rotarian Patricia Castiglia advised the committee on obtaining the matching grant.
Though the field has been built, the partnership will continue, as Rotary will be a part of the Better Baseball Committee, run through town recreation. Plans call for an annual tournament for both age groups, starting next year.