November 20, 2019
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This Brewer baseball field is too wet to play ball. But it’s just right for a mother duck.

John Holyoke | BDN
John Holyoke | BDN
A duck nests between a fence gate and the outfield fence at Heddericg Field in Brewer on Monday. The field is too wet to be playable, and the duck has made itself at home.

It’s no secret that this spring has been a bit soggy in these parts. If you’re looking for more proof, just ask David Utterback, athletic administrator for the Brewer School Department.

His baseball facility, Heddericg Field, is too wet to play on. And a local duck has decided the new wetland is the perfect spot to lay a few eggs and hunker down until they hatch.

Utterback said Dennis Kiah and Phil Pushard, who do some grounds work for the athletic department, discovered the duck’s nesting spot Thursday when they prepared to close a sliding outfield gate. The duck had set up camp between the stationary right field fence and the gate, and had built a cozy nest of leaves.

The duck’s nest is about 10 feet to the right of the right-field line, putting it (appropriately) in “fowl” ground.

The fact a duck had moved in didn’t really come as a surprise to Utterback, who said discussions on facility upgrades are ongoing.

“We’re certainly not trying to sensationalize or exaggerate the condition of Heddericg Field. It is wet,” Utterback said. “For the last three years it’s been very wet and borderline unuseable for about three-quarters of the baseball season. We haven’t been able to use it for our baseball teams, and that’s across four teams for us and seven grade levels.”

John Holyoke | BDN
John Holyoke | BDN
David Utterback, the athletic administrator for the Brewer School Department, takes a photo of a duck that has nested between s sliding gate and the outfield fence at Heddericg Field. The field is suitable for ducks, but is too wet to be playable.

The duck just proved what he has been saying for years.

“If a duck thinks this is an area that’s natural for them because it’s so wet, maybe that does illustrate the need for some sort of improvement down here, that we just can’t rely on Mother Nature herself to take care of it,” Utterback said.

Brewer has been playing road games and using neutral artificial turf fields when possible, but groundskeepers cannot even get a mower on the soggy outfield.

Utterback said he has been in contact with a local game warden who said he would keep an eye on the situation. Utterback said he was hopeful that the field would be playable — ducks permitting — by Friday, when Brewer is scheduled to face Bangor.

The hope is that the eggs will hatch, and the ducks will waddle away to a more suitable location. If that doesn’t happen, another plan could be made.

“[The warden] took a look at it and said it’s pretty well protected the way it is right now with [the duck] being in between the two fences, but they would re-evaluate it and try to come up with something safe for that family,” Utterback said.

The phrase “ducks on the pond” has a baseball-specific meaning as well. It’s a saying that some coaches use referring to having multiple baserunners aboard at the same time.

That fact isn’t lost on Utterback.

“We’ve definitely got a duck on our pond now, and we want to try to find a way to drive it home,” he said.

Related: How Maine ducks show their romantic side



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