Seems as though I’ve become quite the Maine cheerleader. No, you won’t find me prancing around the sidelines at Black Bear football games this autumn. I’m talking about the state itself, and all it has to offer. Perhaps this comes with age, you think?
As young whipper-snappers, we’re too busy with all the “stuff” we’re doing to fully appreciate what we have in our own back yard. Case in point: the kid I spied on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia last week.
The top of Cadillac was jammin’ with people from all over the country (license plates served as evidence.) Most of these people were in awe as they stepped-out of the cars and were hit with cool Maine breezes and the truly inspiring view of Bar Harbor and the mighty Atlantic. Yet one teenager sitting in a car with a Maine license plate refused to get out of the back seat. Seems he was too engrossed with some game on his phone to be bothered by the experience many had driven thousands of miles to soak-in.
Bangor’s Mansfield stadium is like this, I think. I’m not sure local baseball players and fans fully appreciate what an incredible facility we have right in our own backyards.
Two summers ago, we packed-up our car and headed to Freehold, New Jersey to watch the Old Town Senior League All-Stars compete in a baseball tournament there. My assumption was that since we were heading to the “World Series” of Senior League, the baseball facilities would at least match or surpass what we have here at Mansfield. Boy, was I wrong. Not even close.
In case you don’t know, inspiration for the construction of Mansfield was born in 1989, when David Mansfield, Neil Waterman, Stephen King and Ron St. Pierre coached the Bangor West 11-12 year old all-star team that won the state championship, then competed in the regional championship in Connecticut. After that experience, coaches and parents determined that local ball players deserved an improved baseball facility, which resulted in the construction of Mansfield Stadium, made possible by a $1.2 million dollar donation from Stephen and Tabitha King.
The stadium was named after David Mansfield’s son Shawn, who had cerebral palsy and died at the age of 14. When you visit Mansfield, be sure to check-out the plaque honoring Shawn at the entrance of the stadium.
In the coming days, fans from near and far will watch their kids compete in the Senior League East Regionals at Bangor’s own Mansfield Stadium, a baseball field that is at least on par with many professional minor league parks. A bunch of people work a ton of hours to care for Mansfield, assuring it is a place we can all be proud of and admire. Let’s not take it for granted; check it out and be thankful for it. Sure beats anything they have in Freehold, NJ.
And while you’re at it, next time you drive by the house with the bats out front not too far from Mansfield, tip your cap and throw a thank you toward the Kings.