Building fields of dreams

Congratulations to the Saranac Lake Surge, this year’s champions of the Empire Professional Baseball League, who defeated the Plattsburgh Thunderbirds 3-0 during the final game of a best of five series at the Tupper Lake Municipal Park last week.

And congratulations to the Tupper Lake Riverpigs for a strong showing during their first season in Tupper Lake.

After a year off due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s professional baseball season in the Tri-Lakes was a welcome break from having to stay at home, work at home, study at home — and, when you could go out, mask up everywhere.

The success of our local teams rests upon the broad shoulders of the players and the coaches, yet it would also not be possible without local boosters in the communities they represent. It’s like the “Field of Dreams” line, “If you build it, he will come.” Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake built homes for their teams, and they came.

Now Mayor Clyde Rabideau wants to see a name change for the Surge, which received its name before the team moved from Old Orchard Beach, Maine — in the East Coast Baseball League — to Saranac Lake, joining the Empire Professional Baseball League in 2019. Rabideau would like the team’s name to reflect Saranac Lake history in some way, perhaps becoming the Bootleggers, honoring the community’s history of bootlegging during Prohibition. Others suggested The Cure, recalling the days when people traveled to this village during the late 1800s and early 1900s to recover from tuberculosis. We think a name change is worth discussing, but we hope improvements to where the team plays takes precendence.

While we appreciate the enthusiasm of local baseball boosters and the effort it took to prepare a ball field for the Surge, Saranac Lake’s Petrova Field still doesn’t have that ball park feel like the one at Tupper Lake’s Municipal Park. With its iconic grandstand, it was built for baseball.

After the village of Tupper Lake purchased the mill land along Raquette Pond in 1933, it began developing the Municipal Park. And, due to the success of the Tupper-Sunmount Colonols team in the Northern Baseball League, baseball caught the imagination of residents. Sunmount had its own ball park, but nothing quite like the one that would be built on the shores of Raquette Pond.

Work began on Tupper Lake’s grandstand in late December 1937, and the new ball park was christened on June 12 when the Tupper Lake Rangers played the Malone Stars in the home opener.

It’s too bad Saranac Lake doesn’t have a ball park like the one in Tupper Lake, which is an attraction all to itself. Maybe some day Saranac Lake will have a new field of dreams to go along with a new name for the hometown baseball club. Even so, we’re proud to have Empire League teams in the Tri-Lakes.


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