22 July, 2004

Braves’ New World
Bourne Braves plan new ballpark on Cape Cod hilltop

     Hollywood can create a field of dreams in an Iowa cornfield in about 60 minutes. Hire Kevin Costner and throw Burt Lancaster into the mix and you have an enchanting tale about baseball and America’s heartland.


Jack Kamb of Canal Project Management Corp. is working on plans for a new home field for the Bourne Braves. Fund raising will be the key to getting the new park built on the grounds of Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School.
Photo by Jerry Taube

     Building a field on a Cape Cod hilltop is different. So is baseball in the sand dune. But the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League hope to construct a ballpark on the ridge above Sandwich Road overlooking the Cape Cod Canal. The dream is similar to the Costner flick. If you build it, they will come.

     The continual stream of headlights along Sandwich Road to get to the Braves field at Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School will not be as winding as that in the end of the movie. And there will be no home games Tuesday night when the folks with the classic cars gather at the school.

     But if the cornfield park with the magical outfield could save Costner’s farm, then the proposed ballpark — next to the Camp Edwards boundary beyond the technical school and the tract on which Len Cubellis is advancing another CanalSide Commons plan — could possibly revitalize the Bourne Braves franchise.

     Cubellis Saivaitz Associates of Braintree designed the field plan and will underwrite the project to its permitting phase to the tune of $50,000. Canal Project Management Corp. of Pocasset will serve as project manager at a costs-only basis, a proposal readily accepted by the Braves. 

     “People say it can’t be done, but I’ve worked with volunteers before on large projects and I think it can be done,” said former Bourne Selectman Roland Dupont, head of CPMC. “That’s why we took this on. We’ve made a strong start.
Hopes are riding high. The Cape League envisions a field along the lines of those in Orleans or Chatham where summer baseball is a community event and the draw is tremendous.

     Technical school superintendent Barry Motta sees a field that will help his school’s sports program and attract post-season schoolboy play.

     “People like Barry Motta are committed to the point he donated $5,000. There’s enthusiasm for this,” DuPont said.

A nomadic tradition
     If baseball is about change, then the Braves are exemplar. Bourne and the Brewster Whitecaps are the league’s newest clubs. The Braves started at Hendy Field on the Massachusetts Maritime Academy campus at windswept Taylors Point. The agreement with MMA provided a ready field and the necessary supporting facilities for a new franchise.

     John Aylmer, MMA president at the time and today still a strong supporter of the Hyannis Mets and the Cape League, wanted to make sure the Bourne club was well rooted. It was. But it did not attract baseball fans in record numbers. The Braves were accepted in Bourne, but somehow the depth of affection was missing even as the team was competitive after its first few seasons.
That evolved later when the franchise moved across the canal to the old soccer field next to the Coady School, now the Waldorf School of Cape Cod off Cotuit and Trowbridge roads.

     A ballfield was built to accommodate the Braves and the Bourne High Canalmen. The sub-culture of group identity with the Braves began to take hold. There was, however, one small problem that was quickly evident.
The setting sun could be murder for the guy at bat. Delays were built into the routine at Coady. But the number of fans at home games doubled to about 400. The franchise matured, but with that maturity there were front-office problems and personality differences that linger even after the departure of some board members.

     There were other problems. Kids would chase foul balls into Trowbridge Road. They still do, but it is to a lesser extent and community is more aware of the danger.

     Coady Field is a fine place to play the game and watch the college kids trying to move up. There is no magic in the setting, however. No gazebo or band concert before the order to play ball. But the field is first rate and was made so thanks to the help of inmate work crews, the school system’s maintenance crews and the volunteers who have shunted in and out of the Bourne Braves.

     Those who control the ballclub’s destiny now want a field built on the hilltop backing into Camp Edwards with batters facing north and east instead of west into the sun that blinds in its setting arc.

     The plan is to complete the ballpark and sod it by 2005 but not play on it until the summer of 2006. This remains an ambitious goal. Some $500,000 must be raised first.

     This is where Canal Project Management comes in. It will guide the project through its permitting. It will also establish a phone bank of solicitors and chase people with money who like baseball and think Bourne should have a first-rate park in the Cape League. The plans seem as attentive to style and detail as baseball itself.

     Some corporate sponsors beyond Cubellis Saivaitz have signed on. Coca Cola Bottling of Cape Cod will fund the scoreboard. The Cape League has sanctioned the project and may help fund it. Naming rights for the field and its various sections are negotiable. It is in this realm that the real money will be secured.

     The lighting will be expensive. A decade ago, the town decided to re-do the lights at Keith Field in Sagamore village. The expense was in the $85,000 to $125,000 range until Gallo Construction Co. stepped in to help. Lighting since then has not become less expensive.

     U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt’s Hyannis office is working with the National Guard to secure field-clearing equipment from the neighboring Massachusetts Military Reservation. The base bulldozers will make the place ready for a professional firm to build a ballpark.

     A new field of dreams? Not entirely. Jack Kamb, a Duke University senior majoring in economics and baseball enthusiast, is serving as project manager on an intern basis for CMPC.

     Kamb said the new field will fit the Cape.

     “This will be baseball on a Cape Cod hilltop,” he said. “The Braves really need the field. They need more fans at games to revitalize the franchise. It seems the community likes the idea. It’s going forward. It’ll also be a huge benefit for the school.”
Technical school students will build the press box, the dugouts and concession stand. They will construct the restrooms and provide landscaping beyond the grass berms along the first- and third-base paths where the spectators will place their lawn chairs.

     The ballfield also will include a picnic area for families and a small playground for the younger kids not yet fascinated by the larger game at hand.

     Thus the Braves odyssey continues from a field next to the canal perhaps one day soon to a field high above the canal on its other side. It will be 325 feet to left field and 325 to right. It will be 390 to center, however, where there will be no magical cornfield. A fence will be necessary if only to provide more space for corporate advertisers.

     The place may become the envy of the Cape League. The dreaming is done. So too is the early planning. The difficult part is under way.

     Donations can be sent to the Braves Field Fund, P.O. Box 895, Monument Beach, MA 02553. Ideas should be called to Lynne Ladetto, Braves president, at 508-888-5080 or Kamb at 508-564-9047.

By Paul Gately