By Greg Klein
---- — Cooperstown Youth Baseball will honor Martin Richard, the 8-year-old who died in the Boston Marathon bombings, by flying a flag from his baseball league in the group’s opening day parade on Saturday in Hartwick.
Richard played in the Savin Hill Little League in Dorchester, Mass. According to CYB president Michelle Dibble, she was forwarded a request to fly the Savin Hill flag from Brad Horn, senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“He was in contact with a person from Savin Hill that will be in Cooperstown on the 27th for business,” Dibble said. “(He) asked if they would be willing to hang a flag in their honor as he would not be home to see their opening day. We accepted eagerly to carry a flag in our parade in (Richard’s) honor and to have a moment of silence.”
It will be the first opening day at the new baseball and softball complex in Hartwick. The CYB lost its longtime home, Beanie Ainslie Field, because of the village’s Gateway Project.
Plans to build a field on Brooklyn Avenue on property owned by Jane Clark didn’t work out when nearby residents objected to a baseball field in the neighborhood.
Finally the town of Hartwick offered the use of a 35-acre property on Wells Avenue, which was formerly known as School Street.
“We are really grateful for the town of Hartwick,” Dibble said. “They have really come through for us. They were very eager for us to be there. They have been the most supportive group you could ever imagine.”
Delays in getting permits and problems with bad weather have slowed construction, but at least one field in Hartwick will be available for games this season, Dibble said. Games will also continue to be played at the Beaver Valley Campground.
“Dwaine and Juli Sharatt, the owners of Beaver Valley, have done more than their share for us,” Dibble said. “We are so thankful to them for allowing us to have games there the past few years.”
Ultimately there will be separate fields in Hartwick for softball and major league and minor league baseball as well as grassy areas for tee-ball and rookie leagues. There are also plans for a clubhouse.
On Saturday, team photos will take place starting at 8:30 a.m. The parade will start at 11 a.m. at the Hartwick Fire Department ( Company No. 1) and go down County Road 11 and Wells Avenue toward the field.
Howard Reiss will throw out one of the first pitches. Reiss’ company, Reiss Moving and Storage, has helped CYB move and store equipment during the transition. Another special guest, who will throw out a first pitch, has yet to be named.
Dibble said she still hears from people who are upset about the move from Cooperstown, but she believes the frustration and anger will diminish as the community sees and experiences the new CYB fields.
“I wish I could say it has all gone away, but there are still some hard feelings, honestly,” she said. “People still say to me ‘how could Cooperstown, the home of baseball, not have a field for Cooperstown Youth Baseball?’ It is going to take some time for some people to get over it.”