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Little Fenway: Bigger than a Baseball Fan's Imagination

A story of the construction and events that surround this unique wiffleball field that has become every baseball fan's dream

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A Backyard Game Taken Way Too Far

Blog

The beginning
June 5th, 2011

Friday, May 28th:
 
My wife Beth suggested I get with the times and start blogging and, of course, she is the boss.   Kudos to Brian Cain and Brian Chandler and the 10 students at Mt. Mansfield High School who came over on a bus today and helped remove weeds on the warning track at Little Fenway, paint the Little Wrigley foul poles, fix a few kinks with the Green Monster net, and improve the drainage on Little Wrigley.  This was part of their community service and their kind help is deeply appreciated.   I managed to get some major weedwhacking done today despite the inclement weather.  I tarped Little Fenway in case we decided to use the field on Saturday.  Congrats to Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins for getting to the Stanley Cup finals !  Did you know that Tim Thomas donated his Olympic goalie stick - the one he used (he says hardly used) - to our Travis Roy Foundation silent auction in 2010...what a kind move on Tim's part.
 

Saturday, May 29th:
June 5th, 2011

 
This record-breaking rain has added some challenge to getting Little Fenway and Little Wrigley ready for the Vermont Classic, formerly called the Blue Bulls Invitational, on June 4th and 5th.  Clif from SD Ireland loaded up Jonathan from Landshapes with Sur-pac and the LandShapes crew worked all day to put in the path around the third base side of Little Wrigley.  We now have a walking path from our driveway to Litttle Fenway that continues all the way to the left field corner of Little Wrigley.   Wheelchair folks can now get down to Little Wrigley easy.   I'm really excited about this improvement.  If you ever need any landscaping don't hesitate to call Jonathan at LandShapes.  They do a terrific job.  The ivy on Little Wrigley is starting to come in nicely.

Sunday, May 30th:
June 5th, 2011

 
Beth and I had breakfast with Jeff and Natalie Kolok at the Village Cup.  Jeff is spearheading the SLAMDiabetes event at Little Fenway on June 25th.  He has 12 teams lined up, lots of volunteers, and has produced a neat monthly newsletter to get folks jazzed up.  It's pretty obvious his enthusiasm is contagious and the team he is putting together for this first-time event is pretty special.  We are so fortunate to have met Jeff & Natalie and their wonderful children.  They are true champions in the fight to cure Type 1 diabetes. 
 
My neighbor Bob and I walked the land that we feel will serve as our next parking lot for the TRF event since the event continues to attract more people and more cars every year.  Looks like we could squeeze in 30-40 cars on that parcel.  David Ramada, who I ran into at the Texas Roadhouse on Saturday, asked when the parking garage is going in...David, after you sign off on your dad's blueprint.  I took a breather from working outside all day to reasssess my 3 fantasy baseball teams.  One team (VRE league)has a big lead in the standings - probably the most balanced team I have ever had, favorite to win the league.  One team (Yahoo league) has made huge progess in the last month soaring from the basement to second place, and the third team (Teddy Ballgame league) is floundering.  So I decided to shake things up - I fired the GM of my TB team, made two trades to help me for next year and decided I wont study as much in prep for the draft next year because the amount of time spent preparing is inversely proportional to the teams ranking in the leagues. Go figure.

Wednesday, May 31st:
June 5th, 2011


 
Called home on my cell when leaving work and got a scary answer on the other end of the phone.  Beth was frantic.  Something had just happened at the house that was  creating a lot of commotion.  She was very upset.  I couldn't tell what was going on but apparently Levi, our 8 year old maltese, had slipped on a stair and was writhing in pain.  He had slipped a disc in his back and this was the third and worst incident in the past month.  Cortisone shots had helped the other two cases.  So the evening was spent trying to figure out what to do for our dog.  Grace, our neighbor and such a good friend, drove with Beth and Levi to the emergency vet in Burlington.  They gave him some painkillers, took an xray, and Beth brought him home for the evening.  Beth was up most of the night with Levi. I finally got enough water pressure in the sprinkler system (400+ft of garden hoses) to water the area at Wrigley that Landshapes hydro-seeded.  Not that it needed that much water after all the rain.

Monday, May 30st, Memorial Day.
June 5th, 2011

 
Bill Livingstone and I worked on the Little Wrigley foul poles that were taken down along with the Pesky pole in the horrendous wind storm on December 1, 2010.  This time I think they are less susceptible to winter damage because we got a few more turns on the pipe wrenches when we threaded the pipes.   I worked on the tracks around the fields and did some serious weedwhacking.  Chased a deer off Little Wrigley.  it was a relatively relaxing holiday.

Thursday, June 1st:
June 5th, 2011

We decided to go ahead with the back surgery for Levi.  I guess they go in through his neck to repair the 2nd/3rd vertebrae.  Ca-ching.  $4,000 later Levi seemed to have survived the surgery successfully but it was going to take a few days before we knew for sure.  Meeanwhie, I realized I only had a couple days before the Vermont Classic (Blue Bulls wiffle ball tournament).  Tom Ruo and I exchanged a few notes regarding his RV - Tom is captain from Rhode Island.  We'll see if we can get his RV in and out of the Wrigley parking lot.  It rained again today.  Unbelievable May weather...rained nearly every day so why should June be any different ?   I had a nice long chat with Travis Roy on how we could improve communications.  He is an amazing guy.  So is Larry Riegert who came over and spent hours weeding the infield at Little Wrigley and helping around the facility. 
 

Friday, June 2nd:
June 5th, 2011

 
The weather was beautiful  Early Old Geezers breakfast with Omar Saiyid, Bill Livingstone, and Kurt Carpenter.  We laughed most of the breakfast.  Omar just retired from iBM so we wanted to know what it was like on the other side.
i worked from home, then spent many hours working the fields...grooming them for tournament...Brendan Collins and Mike Behling came by and put in quite a few hours as well. We put up stakes/ribbon/snow fences....cut the grass, by dark, it was lookin pretty good....at 9:30pm when i sat down finally I realized I hadn't eaten since the Old Geezers breakfast.  Beth made me a pizza which I devoured.  Levi had a scare at the vet, but was now eating/drinking so we're hoping for the best.
 

Saturday, June 4th:
June 5th, 2011

 
Woke up at 2:45am after 3.5 hours of sleep and couldn't go back to sleep...so I did some email, fantasy baseball research, and started thinking of the gazillion things I should do before the first Wiffle ball game of the season at 9am....hopefully I'll pick the right things to get done because I will only get to 10-20% of them.
 
Expecting 10 teams, the first arrivals should be here in less than 3 hours since it is now 5am on Saturday as I write this blog entry...expecting great weather....that will add to the enjoyment.

Travis Roy Foundation Wiffle ball tournment wrap-up
September 5th, 2011

It's been 3 weeks since the amazing 10th annual Travis Roy Foundation Wiffle ball tournament.  Committee members seem all pysched to start the plannnig for our 2012 event.  Raising over $413,000 this year to bring that tournament total to over $1.5M is mind boggling.  I was signing a bunch of thank-you cards today and it's hard to find the right words to express how grateful I am to all of the wonderful volunteers, players, guests, sponsors, donors, and friends of the Travis Roy Foundation.  From the unveiling of the Citgo sign, to the Friday night party, to the Kid's activities, to the home run derby, and money count, to Paula McDonald's wonderful research pitch, to the lottery, to the games themselves, including the Staten Island Yankees 7-5 win over the Blue Bulls in the championship, it was a weekend of precious memories.

A big thank you to Travis Roy and his family for their inspiration and spirit that they give all of us - the energy it creates is a special force that epitomizes what life is all about.

Little Fenway project: getting power to various points on the grounds
September 5th, 2011

Larry Riegert created a beautiful blueprint of the new underground power lines we envision for a Fall project at Little Fenway this year.  When this project is completed we will have power available for the sound systems, the food vendors, the camera crews, and other needs (like the Jumbotron) at both fields. The biggest challenge will be the finding a path through the ledge.  Larry was poking around yesterday with a steel pole to see how deep we could go since the electrician wants us to bury the conduit from the pole to the clubhouse three feet deep.

6th Annual Jarred Williams Foundation Wiffle ball event
September 5th, 2011

5 days til the 6th annual Jarred William Foundation tournament.  12 teams are ready to go...rain through wed will darken the grass but hopefully exit the area by the weekend....kudos to Dave Thomas for another stellar job planning the event this year.

The Day After a Monsoon
September 6th, 2011

Dug a few trenches along the path to Little Wrigley during the torrential rain on Monday and it seems to have worked...the runoff from Lansdowne Street stayed in the trenches and did not erode the gravel on the path to Little Wrigley. The best time to make those kind of site improvements is when it's raining the hardest.

It was nice to meet David Ball from Northfield last week.  David hit a few balls over the monster with his brother.  David is the UNH wide receiver who broke Jerry Rice's collegiate record for number of receptions.  Nice guy.  I wish him the best in his next Arena Football League season.

I am adding a new poll soon to the Little Fenway website to get fans input on a 3rd field..this is not a commitment to build a third field, just early market research...building a third field will require the approval of the big boss, my wife Beth....the choices are Little Yankee Stadium, Little Dodger Stadium (the first MLB park I ever attended), Little Field of Dreams (maybe I can eat some of the corn after the season), any stadium with dome, or a fan write-in winner...

Cheers to Chris Tall for his amazing work on the Little Fenway sound systems...there's a guy who knows his stuff.

In case you missed it, the 6 beautiful flags hanging from the yardarms at Little Wrigley during the TRF tournament were the fine work of Gena Lenhart...a flag for each team that has won the TRF tournament...I wonder if we will be able to persuade Gena into doing #7, Staten Island Yankees, our 2011 TRF tournament champion.

The Three Stooges
September 7th, 2011

For those of you who weren't able to be here for the Travis Roy Foundation Wiffle ball tournament in August, you can watch the championship game on www.packnetwork.com.  Kevin O'Connor, who volunteered as a camera man for the tournament, is heading west on September 8th to pursue his film career in Hollywood after finishing up his work recently as the writer's assistant on the making of the Three Stooges in Atlanta by the Farrelly Brothers.  The Three Stooges movie is due out in 2012.

Time to cram for the 2011 Fantasy Football draft tomorrow night.  My sleepers are Mark Ingram, Lance Kendricks, Kevin Walter, Mathew Stafford, and Shone Green.

After this weekend's Jarred Williams Foundation event, it will be time to research phones for the bullpens, analyze what height is needed for Manny's door on the Little Fenway scoreboard, add loads to the site power plan, and talk with our community leaders on the work required to dig a well and install an irrigation system.  Adding an irrigation system will be a huge positive impact on my productivity because I won't have to drag hoses all over the place in the summer.


Jarred Williams Foundation Wiffle ball event Day 1
September 10th, 2011

Talk about a perfect weather day.  12 teams arrived today to compete for the Jarred Williams Cup. The Bomb Squad and the Colchester Cardinals were impressive.  The defending champions, the Green Monsters, were upset and now face an uphill battle to get in the playoffs.

The Opening Ceremony featured a special family who have been beneficiaries of the Jarred Williams Foundation and they were kind to join us and share with us the impact the Foundation has had on their lives.

The food, auction, face painting, and games were terrific.  Rusty DeWees was outstanding once again. The Top Cats sang the National Anthem beautifully.  Dave Thomas announced that the fundraising was in full gear, well over $10,000 received with many more checks pouring in....a Big Thank you to all of the volunteers, sponsors, donors, players, and guests for a tremendous first day of the tournament.

Come back again tomorrow on September 11th for Day two of this charity tournament at Little Fenway.

Jarred Williams Foundation Wiffle ball tournament
September 11th, 2011

Another banner weather day and a successful conclusion to the Jarred Williams Foundation Wiffle ball tournament.  Checks are still rolling in.  The Bomb Squad became a 2-time winner of the tournament by coming from 4 runs behind in the Championship game and beating the Colchester Cardinals 5-4. It is safe to say that everyone had a lot of fun. 

This is the last of the four major tournaments at Little Fenway in 2011 ( Vermont Classic, SLAMDiabetes, Travis Roy Foundation, and Jarred Williams Foundation).  We will have a variety of smaller functions in the weeks ahead as well as commence a number of field upgrades that are best done in the Fall.  Planning is underway to determine what the schedule of events will be at Little Fenway in 2012.  This year alone these 4 tournaments raised approximately $470,000 for charity - a record year.

Let's remember all of the families who were affected by 9-11.  God bless all of them.

Red Sox autopsy
September 30th, 2011

Wanted:  Cubs fans who can serve as psychiatrists for all Red Sox fans this week.  Your help is needed to prevent any members of Red Sox Nation from going bonkers.  Also needed...George Mitchell to investigate if the Yankees intentionally laid down vs. Longoria and the Rays to propel the Sox out of the playoffs.  Maybe this was actually good news for the Sox.  It was getting more and more painful watching them this year and the playoffs would have just prolonged the agony.

What is Little Wrigley?

Little Wrigley

Little Wrigley is a unique 1/4th scale replica of Chicago's Wrigley Field in the backyard of Pat & Beth O'Connor's house in Essex, Vermont. It was built in 2007 (modeled after Little Fenway) to increase tournament capacity and is used exclusively for Wiffle ball games. Several major charity fund-raising tournaments are held at Little Wrigley every year. To date, over $1.2 Million has been raised for various charities. Smiles, laughter, and warm memories are the name of the game at Little Wrigley.

Wiffle Ball: The Ultimate Guide

Wiffle Ball: The Ultimate Guide

It's old school and new school. It s unique and ubiquitous. It s yellow and white. It's red, white, and blue. It s one of America s favorite brands: a classic for nearly 60 years and still a fad-proof fan favorite. The Wiffle Ball remains the great equalizer, befuddling batters of all ages...