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Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Bret Moore, right, and his father Noel Moore sit in a dugout at the Central Point Little League fields.
Conceptual design of the new Central Point Little League fields.
This photo was from 1972, the first year that Central Point Little League played at the Hanley Road fields. Most likely taken on that field we were on today. Noel is in the red shirt in the back, and I am in the second row, second from left, no number showing. Photo from Bret Moore
50 years after the Moore family helped create the Little League fields in Central Point, the family is leading efforts for a major renovation

A whopping 50 years — and countless home runs — since longtime Central Point resident Noel Moore helped coordinate materials, volunteer labor and a “really good deal” on some needed land for local ballplayers to hone their skills, the fields along Hanley Road could soon be redone to ensure future generations have a state-of-the-art facility for America’s favorite pastime.

If all goes well, players will close out a half century of playing at the beloved old fields this coming season and return to some big changes next season.

City officials announced in recent weeks that the Moore family and city officials would partner with the Central Point Little League to create a $3.8 million sports complex. Decades of irrigation and maintenance woes resolved, the replacement facility would offer larger, updated fields, improved parking and everything modernized.

Back in 1972, during Little League season, Noel Moore, a homebuilder, was a dad trying to help find a place for local kids to play ball. His then 12-year-old son Bret was headed into his final year of Little League, playing for Wolfard Equipment.

Prior to 1972, Little League games — just eight teams, due to limited space — were held in the schoolyard at Mae Richardson Elementary.

Now 61, and the third generation in the family to build homes and develop neighborhoods around the city, Bret Moore recalled his first three years on Mae Richardson fields and the move to Hanley Road thanks to his dad’s connection with the local Flanagan family. A series of conversations led to nearby property owner, Chuck Flanagan, offering the property, at first, just to use.

“It was back in ’71. I had asked if he had any land sitting around. He showed us this, and we got to work,” said Noel Moore, now 82, during a recent visit to the fields, where he wore his favorite Little League cap.

A network of volunteers and parents chipped in where they could. Masons built dugout walls. Landscapers helped with grass and trees. Local businesses chipped in on materials for everything from bleachers to fencing.

“I borrowed a road grader from the city, and we had two pieces of equipment out here to get it started. We had two of the existing fields here, and another two used to be where the parking is now,” recalled Noel Moore.

A handful of years after the first parcel of land was obtained, a second piece brought the property to its current 14.5 acres.

“How we got the dugouts was, I was building a lot of houses over on Rachel and Donna Way. I’d order a truckload of concrete, knowing I’d have two or three yards left over. We’d use the leftover to build our dugouts. We had a brick mason who was a friend, so he did that part,” he added.

“We had quite a bit of help. One of the parents was the owner of a lumber yard, so we got wood for cheap to make some bleachers. It all just came together.”

Basic in design, the fields immediately filled a gap. A few years after opening, a state tournament was hosted. The younger Moore said the move to Hanley Road enabled his sisters, and eventually his kids and grandkids, to play ball. Both father and son have played, coached and umpired their way across five decades of ball on the fields they helped start.

City Administrator Chris Clayton said it was fitting that the Moore family would play an integral role in updating the fields. In addition to the city funding a $278,000 design process, with RHG Consultants, another $1.5 million is budgeted toward the project with the Moore family contributing, Bret Moore confirmed, “at least $1 million.”

Clayton said details were being worked out with the Little League board, and due diligence being done for the county planning process. As part of funding nearly $4 million in improvements, the city would need to own the land, but Little League would have a use agreement in place.

“Tournament baseball in the valley is a big thing, and we think this could be used to host some tournaments. In Medford, at U.S. Cellular, their tournaments are full every time, so extra capacity for some overflow could be helpful. This would provide a lot of opportunities for Little League and for the community,” Clayton said.

“I’m a baseball guy, so this project is near and dear to my heart.”

David Dorner, vice president of Central Point Little League, confirmed that talks were underway with the city on project specifics and that improvements have been a long time coming.

“It’s definitely exciting. Talks have been going on with the city for years about improving the fields, so we’re eager to finally see some revive-ment for the fields,” Dorner said.

“The amount of money that they would potentially spend on the fields would be huge for Little League and for the whole community. We just want to make sure and improve things, but also to protect our kids and Little League.”

Even with funding largely provided, Clayton and Bret Moore said, volunteers would continue to be the life blood of the planned project. Help would be welcome for donated time, materials and gaps in funding.

Noel Moore said he was ready to help make things happen — just as he was in 1972.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years already,” he said. “My one thing is, since I was one of the ones who helped get this started, I’d like to be here when they get this finished. So we’re really hoping to get things moving.”

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