It was a sunny Saturday afternoon with just the right amount of breeze blowing through area. Rain from the previous night had the ground nice and soft. This is what people mean when they talk about baseball weather.
It was the top of the sixth. In big league terms, it would be time for Tommy Hunter to close out another Orioles victory; however, these Orioles were from Rock Hall, making the sixth inning the finish line. They had been down to their final strike in the top of the sixth when a clutch single plated the tying runs. Then Johnny hustled out an infield single to plate the go ahead run. The Chestertown team went from delight to despair in mere minutes. It was the bottom of the sixth. Zack worked his way on base for the local lads. That’s what Zack does. Sam put a bunt in play and did his best Johnny impression down the first base line. The winning runs were on base. A double steal put those runs in scoring position. Taylor sent a ground ball up the middle and into center field. Sam beat the throw to the plate, and every kid knew what that meant. The coaches and parents knew as well, but were seeking some voice from elsewhere to say it was okay to start giving out the “attaboys” and “chin-ups”.
After the game, it was time for the celebratory moment. The team would head over to Stam’s for a few scoops. Being a Saturday afternoon, it was a nice deviation from the mid-week post-game pizza party at Proc’s. While the team was downtown, we were reminded that the next day was Taste of the Town.“Oh we should go to that” was the common murmur. Eventually all good things must come to an end. Some parents got in their cars and went home to go about the rest of the weekend. Others ambled over to the Lemon Leaf for an early dinner. A couple of the coaches walked over to the Imperial for an appetizer and perhaps a cocktail. I needed a new belt and decided to check out the selection at Houck’s.
All of this would be a quintessential Chestertown type of a moment if the last paragraph weren’t fiction. It’s not that we on the coaching staff are ice cream grinches. We do not despise cream of crab soup. Most of all, saggy pants are an annoyance. The fact is that Chestertown’s little league teams play zero games within the town’s limits; therefore, the town sees little to nothing from the synergy created by game days.
Worton Park is a fine campus, and Kent County Parks and Recreation has been a valuable partner to the Kent County Babe Ruth league. The Chestertown Recreation Commission has sought to create a similar partnership. The ideal location for a town field is at Kent County Middle School, but that adds a layer of complexity. Maintenance and usage must be defined clearly to satisfy all of the stakeholders; however, this should not be used as a reason not to do something. A proposal delineating those rights and responsibilities (with budget) was put in front of the Kent County Board of Education, having received initial support from the board as well as Mayor and Council. It was recently tabled by the BoE.
All too often, provincial viewpoints in and around Kent County have created a series of turf wars among the various fiefdoms that our system of local governance has spawned. If it isn’t town versus gown, it’s town versus county. Come budget time, any hint of the acronym “MOE” becomes County versus BoE.
Perhaps putting too fine a point on it, the baseball field proposal is a symbol for how these parallel committees can work together to create something for the betterment of the community. For the town, it would receive a recreation asset as it seeks to perfect the live/work/play holy trinity that other counties have worked on for some time. For the baseball league, it is an opportunity to increase enrollment. For the schools, more children having access to the league means that as many as thirty kids would have access to peer groups, perhaps lowering instances of disruption in and out of school.
Is this discussion making a mountain over a pitcher’s mound? I suppose I’ll just have to own that. As I read the debates over economic development and what that entails, I see the same theme time and again: how do we sell Chestertown and Kent County? This is the frankly the wrong path, as it excuses us for not having discussions about continuous improvement.
Our elected officials, candidates for the same, committees they put in place to advise them, trade organizations like DCA, and special interests like Kent Forward all need to be in the business of helping people buy Chestertown and Kent County. This project is a step towards that end. I encourage these organizations and committees to support it, and for the Board of Education to reopen dialogue about it.
There is a public meeting 4/28 at Town Hall to discuss the topic. Comments on the matter can also be submitted to [email protected]