21 June 2006

Brewcaps leave Harwich for new field

Guess where the Brewster Whitecaps will play their home games this year? 

For the first time since the team was founded in 1988, the answer is -- Brewster. 

The baseball field at Cape Tech in Harwich was one of the Cape League’s best, with a terrific view from the big hill and impeccable grooming that tapped the landscaping of the school. 

But the Whitecaps were weary of competing with the Harwich Mariners one mile away and wanted a more convenient locale for the hometown fans. After much contemplation, the Stony Brook Elementary School was chosen. 

"My mission was to beat Orleans -- to beat the best field on the Cape," said Chester Robinson, who oversaw the project. 

The new park hosted its first game June 15, a 2-0 Brewster loss to the Orleans Cardinals, and is located at 384 Underpass Road. For those who have never been there, Underpass Road is off Rte 137 and Route 6A. 

"It’s been 4 1/2 years," Robinson noted. "The political stage was two years. The construction was 2 1/2." 

The grass is green. There is a bank of Cape Cod roses above what Robinson called the "Charlie Sumner" stone wall between the school and first-base line, referring to the Brewster town administrator. 

"We have 14 black cherries in the outfield," Robinson said. 

There is a snappy Brewster Whitecaps blue scoreboard in left-center, sponsored by the Doane, Beal & Ames and Nickerson funeral homes. 

The elementary school’s play area and field, with slides, swings and such, is right behind the backstop, covered with a netting to keep foul balls from raining down on the youngsters. 

Along the right field line, just beyond the dugout, is a family picnic area. 

"That’s unique," Robinson said. "There is an honor sign in back with all the names of people who gave money." 

The sign doesn’t have any names, yet but quite a bit of money has been given. The Whitecaps’ faithful raised $120,000. The Yawkey Foundation kicked in an additional $140,000 and the "in-kind" contributions (donated labor and materials) from local contractors amount to about $140,000, according to Robinson. 

Robinson believes the total value of the field is about $500,000. It’s a municipal park built at no cost to the town, belonging to the town of Brewster and available for Babe Ruth, American Legion, high school and middle school baseball. 

The field is 394 feet to dead center, 320 to right and 315 to left. 

The best "seats," according to Robinson and based on observation, are atop the hill near the school, on the right-field line, and atop a similar hill on the left-field line. The dugouts have been pitched high and will block some sight lines. 

There is plenty of parking at the Stony Brook School, and for big games, people can park at the Eddy School off Route 6A and cross through the woods. 

There are no lights at the park, and no plans for lights. Games will start at 5 p.m. 

A press box has been built behind home plate. 

As of yet, there are few bleacher seats available on the baselines, and the protective fencing is low. Best to bring a chair or blanket to the field. 

The school is accessible via the bike path, which intersects the entry drive. It is advisable to watch out for bikers crossing the drive. Parking is behind the school in several lots. 

By Rich Eldred /reldred@cnc.com