Field woes a frequent frustration

Posted July 30, 2009, at 11:17 p.m.

It’s beginning to seem like anyone who wants to guarantee a rainy day should just schedule a baseball game for the Capitol Area Recreation Association complex in Augusta.

Several championship-level contests at that multi-field facility have been victimized by bad weather or unplayable conditions in recent years — including Thursday’s four games the American Legion state tournament, which were postponed due to heavy overnight rains that further soaked already soggy fields.

When the tournament might return to its original site this weekend is dependent on the weather and field conditions, of course, but it won’t be today.

Three of the postponed games, including an elimination contest between Zone 1 runnerup Hampden and Zone 5 runnerup Kennebunk, will be played Friday at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

A winner’s bracket clash between Zone 1 champion Bangor and Zone 3 champion Smith-Tobey of Bath, will be held at Thomas College in Waterville.

The two primary baseball diamonds at the Augusta complex, Morton Field and McGuire Field, make for an appealing location for multi-team tourneys.

The adjacent fields are convenient for the administration of such events, and being in Augusta they provide a central location for many statewide competitions.

Unfortunately those fields have proven to become easily waterlogged and unplayable, more so than several other sites statewide have played host to championship events.

So while the central location is convenient in the planning stages, once inclement weather arrives there’s often a need for Plan B.

Take the case of the 2004 Eastern Maine Class A championship game between Oxford Hills of South Paris and Edward Little of Auburn.

That game had just been moved by the Maine Principals’ Association from Mansfield Stadium in Bangor to Morton Field in Augusta due to geographic considerations, only to be postponed on three subsequent occasions due to rain and unplayable conditions before being held.

More recently, weather and field conditions forced Legion officials to move the end of last year’s state tourney to USM, while this year’s Class A high school state final was shifted from Augusta to Mahaney Diamond at the University of Maine in Orono.

Just last weekend, two play-in games to fill the final spots in the field for this year’s state American Legion tournament were moved from the CARA complex to Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.

Granted, there aren’t a lot of fields statewide either able or willing to host such events. Required is a community with at least two fields available like Augusta or one well-maintained field with lights that can host multiple games for multiple days.

Greater Bangor is one community that fills either need, as well as Greater Portland, Sanford and several college towns around the state.

Of course, baseball people in such communities must be willing to take on such a challenge.

Certainly the folks in Augusta have been willing, for the volunteers who maintain the CARA fields are as dedicated as any grounds crew in the state.

They should be commended for their efforts — and they deserve a break from Mother Nature.

But at the same time, perhaps a central location shouldn’t be the only factor in scheduling such events.

Because often Plan B doesn’t turn out to be so central.

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