Tupper Lake’s Little League field opens

Members of the Tupper Lake Youth Baseball and Softball Association and village and town officials stand with a ribbon, which was cut by Jason Brown, front left in a white shirt, at the opening ceremony for the Little League field on Saturday. (Provided photo — Tupper Lake Youth Baseball and Softball Association)

TUPPER LAKE — The Tupper Lake Little League field at Flanders Park saw its opening pitch Saturday at 10 a.m., marking the end of a long-awaited sports project and the beginning of Tupper Lake hosting Little League games, championships and tournaments for teams around the North Country.

Daniel Brown, president of the Tupper Lake Youth Baseball and Softball Association, said the field has been in the works in some people’s minds for as long as five years. In 2017 members from the association pitched the village board the idea of a possible location.

The field ended up in a different location, still nearby in the same park, after several months of discussion.

Brown said the central location of the park put it within walking distance for many people. Parents can keep an eye on their kids playing in the Little Loggers Park while they watch the game, and the walkway allows passersby to stop in and watch portions of the game and view Raquette Pond.

“It’s probably the nicest field in area, being brand new,” coach Korey Kenniston said. “I think our field stacks up with anything in the North Country.”

Donations for the $130,000 started to pick up in 2017. Around $70,000 of the project was funded through grants, and the remaining $60,000 was gathered through fundraising events. Fundraising continues, and Brown said there are plans to eventually build dugouts and maybe a grandstand.

Brown said around 100 people attended the opening day to watch Tupper Lake’s 12-and-under team face off against Saranac Lake. Due to rain, the game was cut short after four innings, and the three games scheduled for later in the day were cancelled.

Teams returned Sunday for another game against Canton, and one game is scheduled for 6 p.m. today.

Brown said the opening weekend is an example of why the new field will be a help for the league, as the nearby softball field, where they used to play, was being used for the Homecoming Weekend Softball Tournament with 12 adult teams competing day and night.

“This weekend’s really neat because there’s a big softball tournament going on, so typically we would have been shut right down, but I just drove right by there and there is a 12-U game going on and there’s the adult softball tournament going on and there’s not a place to park in the parking lot,” Brown said.

Also, hitting a home run on the new regulation-size field is much more feasible for kids than it had been on the adult softball field.

The league has 115 kids spread through two boys teams, two girls teams, and coach pitch and T-ball coed teams. They are about halfway through their season, but several more games will be hosted here before it ends, and Brown and Kenniston said they hope to host a tournament in August with teams from all over the North Country.