PEPPERELL — Starting this season, youth baseball fans will be able to follow the glow to Bartelson Field. In the off season, Pepperell Youth Baseball/Softball were granted a loan from North Middlesex Savings Bank in the amount of $35,000 to install light towers at each of its fields on Jersey street.
Starting on Saturday at the Majors 60 field, the first night game in Pepperell Youth Baseball will take plac at 7:30 p.m. .Six light towers were installed on the main field, with three each on the adjacent fields.
It’s an exciting time for Pepperell Youth Baseball, according to league president Brian Gallagher.
“We talked about putting in the lights three years ago, but we had to get financially sound first,” Gallagher said. “We applied for the loan last year, and it was approved. We started to go ahead with the plan in the fall.”
The addition of lights to Bartelson Field has a positive long term effect on Pepperell Youth Baseball. Being able to play night games, opens the fields up for Cal Ripken League sanctioned tournaments.
This summer Pepperell will play host to both the 11U district tournament and state tournament. Which will without a doubt, lead to a spur in some of the local businesses surrounding the ballpark complex.
“A lot of the teams from across Western Mass. will be coming to play in Pepperell — it is just great for our community,” he said. “Hopefully, over time, hosting the tournament will bring us money through our snack shack sales.Gallagher has been a member of the Pepperell Youth Baseball League’s Board of Directors for the last four seasons.
Over those four seasons, Gallagher and the board have noticed a significant hit in the number of baseball players registered. The softball program laid dormant for two years,due to a lack of interest.
But, that all changed this year.The baseball enrollment numbers took a turn for the better in 2015.
Gallagher and the board saw a 10-percent jump in the number of baseball players.
“I don’t know if it was because the lights were coming, or we just did a really good job in recruiting players.”Tthe league president said.
The league enrollment jumped from 148 to 166 in the course of a season.
And, for the first time since 2013, Pepperell Youth Baseball/Softball League will field two teams this spring.
“Aime Lake came on board, and she wanted to get the softball program back running,” Gallagher said. “She hit the schools with flyers and pamphlets. She ended up getting three teams together as a result of her efforts. We have about 36 girls playing softball. We have increased our program enrollment across the board by 25 percent.
“I am very happy with the growth our league has made.”
Gallagher is hopeful that the lights will get the local kids interested in baseball for years to come.
Starting this spring, Pepperell Youth Baseball will have a Mother’s Day scrimmage.
The players’ mothers will play each other the day before Mother’s Day. Gallagher, a Billerica native, grew up with the tradition of the moms playing one another, so he thought why not bring it to Pepperell … and, yes, the mothers are all on board with it.”My wife and her friends have already formed their own team,” Gallagher said. “We are just waiting for the other team to form. The game will be played on May 9 at 11:30. It’s all in good fun. I still have some pretty fond memories of my mother participating.”
It’s time to flip the switch on night baseball, Pepperell.