by Dan McClelland
While their leader Trustee David Maroun was directing the semi-pro baseball team name vote Saturday near the grandstand in the park, the rest of his Empire League committee here were building the first dug-out several hundred feet away at the new Little League field. The new field was a year-long project by the Tupper Lake Youth Baseball and Softball Association, with big help from the Tupper Lake Rotary Club.
“What our committee did today is even more important than the name vote,” said Jed Dukett as the committee members walked the Free Press scribe over to the Little League field to show off the new dug-out.
It's a dug-out in name only as the new shelter sits above ground just behind the left hand side fence of the field's new backstop.
In recent weeks too, the committee oversaw the actual excavation of sand in the big field's dug-outs, which were filled in by the village for safety reasons years ago.
Beginning first thing Saturday, before any of the voters arrived, the six of so volunteers erected a new three-sided building on a deck that had been constructed earlier by volunteers.
The walls and roof were framed and decked with sheathing and texture 1-ll. Asphalt shingles will be installed on the roof to keep the rain off the young players.
The open front will give the team and coaches in it a wide view of all field action.
Contractor Jay Skiff, a committee member, directed the work Saturday. Another local builder, Mark Davies, also helped run Saturday's volunteer crew.
“Mark deserves a big shout-out for all his help today,” said Jay Skiff.
The wooden materials used in Saturday's construction came from a gift to the field project from Tupper Lake Supply Co. A second dug-out which will mirror the first one and will sit opposite it behind the backstop fence on the right side, will be the gift of the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
The first dug-out will be eventually dedicated to two big sports fans here: Ralph “Pinhead” Russell and Lawrence “Bummer” Brown.
The plan for the new baseball field is to keep extending the deck about the back of the backstop . Situated on it will be new bleachers, an announcer's booth, more seating and finally the second dug out.
The next building to be erected, according to Mr. Jay, will likely be the announcer's booth, directly behind the backstop. That is the gift to the baseball project of Carol and Jeff Denit.
The style of the new seating areas Jay described as “grandstand seating” with step widths about three feet and wide enough to accommodate lawn chairs, much like seats in the main grandstand.
Tupper Lake's main municipal ball field and its landmark grandstand was built here as a Civilian Conservation Corp. project during the Great Depression.
“The same type of seating will be cloned behind the right side of the backstop,” Mr. Skiff explained.
For now the new dug out will be painted but it will eventually be sided with brainstorm siding, as funds materialize, he added.
“We're hoping to give it a stadium-look,” said Jed Dukett.
When all the seating is in place there will be seating for over 200 people, the committee members suspect.
The new seating structures are being designed in such a way that roofs could be added later that would tie into the two dug-out buildings and the announcer's booth, Jay Skiff told the Free Press Saturday.
“We're going to be building it so we can keep making improvements over the years,” he added.
Also planned near the field is a court yard with picnic tables.
Spectators can also stand by the lower, outer fences on both sides, as they have been doing at the games there in August.