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Medford Little League could use some helping hands

Gearing up after missing an entire year of baseball due to the pandemic, volunteers and parents for the Medford National Little League are rallying for community help with gear donations and much-needed field cleanup.

Ballplayers and families will turn out Saturday to prepare the West Main Street Little League complex for the excitement of opening day.

Because fields have been dormant twice as long as usual, league president Andrea Noble said, she’s hopeful people will step up to the plate to help.

Field maintenance and cleanup is a tall order most years for the all-volunteer organization. Noble said tasks such as seeding and spraying for weeds are handled by a few dedicated parents, but extra help is needed to pull blackberries, wash dugouts, fill holes and mend fences.

Fields have to be in usable shape for tryouts in just under two weeks, and for games to begin the first week of April.

“We do have somebody spray for weeds, and we did a bunch of cleanup in preparation for the season last year. We didn’t close down until the third week of March, so it was pretty sad to do all that work and not have the kids play. We basically had our team rosters, and we were ready to go. The only thing I hadn’t done was order jerseys,” said Noble.

“The kids are really excited to finally play again. This year has been tough on everyone, but especially kids.”

Noble said the league would take precautions and make modifications to regular operations to ensure player and spectator safety. Players will wear masks when inside the dugout, and sharing of gear won’t be allowed.

“Little League has produced some rules to follow — precautions we can take and still get the kids back out to play ball. It’s just a matter of using common sense and following rules,” she said.

“I think people really want their kids to play again, so I think there’s going to be a lot of cooperation.”

As part of the effort to prevent gear sharing, Noble noted, an equipment drive will be held to ensure kids who can’t afford their own bats and gloves will still get to play despite the restrictions.

“The kids will be spaced out inside the dugout, wearing masks, and we aren’t allow to high five. It’s not great, but it’s better than the alternative of not being allowed to play,” she added.

“We’ll do the equipment drive to help our families who are struggling a little more. Not everybody can always afford all the gear, so we’re hoping for community members and our families to bring in equipment they’re not using.”

Noble said the league is unable to accept used apparel or shoes due to COVID 19, but donations of gently used helmets — all foam intact — and bats, gloves and catcher gear will be graciously accepted.

But, first things first. Those fields need some help.

“My only concern is the weather this weekend, but we really need to clean up the fields no matter what, so I think it’s going to be a rain or shine kind of deal for most of us,” she said.

“We have tryouts next week, and the fields need to be cleaned up, so it just has to happen. Rain or shine, we need help to pull blackberries, rinse out the dugouts, getting the batting cages ready. It’s time to get these kids back to play ball.”

Noble said some tools would be provided but volunteers are encouraged to bring gloves, tools and wheelbarrows. The work party will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The fields are located at 4409 W. Main St.

For information or to make gear donations, send an email to medfordnationallittleleague@gmail.com.

Information can also be found at www.facebook.com/MedfordNationalLittleLeague.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Field 1 has over grown with vegetation, as seen{ } Tuesday afternoon at the Medford Little League Fields. (Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune)
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Andrea Noble and Her son Blake Noble with Levi Cameron at the Medford Little League Fields Tuesday afternoon.