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  Boardman Community Baseball’s Field Of Dreams Complex To Celebrate 25th Anninversary With Ceremonies Set For June 26  
  43-Acre, 20-Field Facility Opened In 1996:   June 10, 2021 Edition  
     BY GREG GULAS
      Boardman News Sports
      bnews@zoominternet.net
      Boardman Community Baseball’s Fields of Dreams Complex is set to celebrate their 25th anniversary season on Saturday, June 25 with ceremonies scheduled for noon at their complex, located at 410 McClurg Rd.
      Ceremonies are open to the public free of charge.
      The 43-acre, 20-field baseball complex held opening ceremonies on June 15, 1996 with a parade of its current players, remarks by YSU President, Jim Tressel – at the time he was the Penguins’ head football coach and executive director of athletics – and former Major League all-star Dave Dravecky, a former Boardman Little League star pitcher.
      In a June 1994 article that appeared in The Boardman News, the first step toward realizing the dream of a centralized baseball complex for all Boardman youngsters occurred when Dr. John York and Clarence ‘Sonny’ Smith, the collective driving force behind the project, reached an agreement with three local doctors (Dr. Daniel P. DeGenova, Dr. Raymond S. Boniface and Dr. Elias T. Saadi) for Boardman Community Baseball to purchase 30 acres of land north of McClurg Rd.
      The doctors also agreed to donate an additional 10 acres for the project with several smaller parcels of land purchased to provide direct access from McClurg Rd. to the east of the Ohio Water Service towers.
      With the concurrence of the Boardman Community Baseball organization, Boardman Little League past-president, architect Chuck Schafer, who helped build the first community Little League Complex at Boardman Park, was asked to provide design services – he was aided by Paul Brock as on-site managers – while Warren ‘Pete’ Drescher agreed to provide surveying and field engineering services.
      Steel Valley Engineering volunteered to design the plumbing, heating, air conditioning and electrical systems required for the entire complex with all professional services provided at no cost to Boardman Community Baseball.
      The rough grading, already completed, was provided by the A.P. O’Horo Co. with cooperation and assistance from the Operating Engineers Training Program, while several other members of the construction fraternity offered to provide services and-or materials.
      Parents of participating baseball players, skilled in various construction trades, also volunteered to join the construction team.
      The solicitation of funds, materials and services provided the main thrust of the construction efforts with the committee comprised of then current BCB president Marykaye Carlson, past president John Walsh, treasurer Tim Kaple, Jim Spaite, Woody Stone, Frank Dravecky, York, Smith and Schafer, who served as chairman.
      Greg Krieger, league secretary and director of complex operations, and a league board member for the past 28 years, is the unofficial historian of Boardman Community Baseball. HeLittle League since its chartering.
      “The Boardman Little League was chartered in 1955 and in 1993, merged with Boardman Youth Baseball,” Krieger stated. “Dr. John York, who came from BYB, then entered the picture and the two organizations merged to form Boardman Community Baseball. He knew that we outgrew our Boardman Park fields and parking was a challenge so in the winter of 1993, Dr. York, along with Clarence Smith, purchased the property on McClurg Rd. and gifted it to the league.”
      Schafer had a love for Little League baseball and for well over a quarter century, remained active as an announcer at the District tournament games during each summer session. Today, his son, Rick, carries on the tradition that his father started some six decades ago.
      Ironically, this year’s ceremonies will take place during the 18th annual Chuck Schafer Scholarship Tournament, a fundraiser which awards two, $2,500 yearly scholarships to an eligible Boardman High School, Cardinal Mooney or Ursuline High School player who has played at least five years at Fields of Dreams.
      The scholarships are announced during Boardman High’s annual year end awards ceremony.
      That first year in 1996, the organization offered 12 leagues with play in T-Ball (boys and girl’s baseball and softball), Minor League (boys and girls), Jr. Varsity (9 and 10, boys and girls), Varsity (11 and 12, boys and girls), Tri-T PONY League (13 and 14, boys and girls), Colt League (15-18 boys) and the ever popular Challenger Division (Co-ed, 4 though 18 years of age for mentally and physically challenged youth).
      This year, those same 12 leagues remain in existence and while 1,600 youths participated that first season at its Fields of Dreams Complex, close to half that number is expected to participate 25 years later.
      The challenge of an abbreviated 2020 season (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) is now a fading memory and Chad Miller, current league president, said it is nice to be able to return with a more normal schedule.
      “In 2020, our goal was to simply provide baseball and softball for the kids of Boardman,” Miller noted. “Our club officers and executive committee came up with a great plan to safely provide an opportunity to play and we did so from June 15 to July 30.
      “There were no state or all-star opportunities a year ago but this year, our 12-U Little League baseball and softball teams will play for a World Series championship. All others will play for a state crown but will not be eligible for regionals or a trip to the World Series.”
      In 25 years of play, BCB estimates that over 100,000 kids have enjoyed the use of its facilities, a site that has hosted multiple state Little League baseball and softball tournaments and all because Dr. John York and Clarence Smith had a vision to grow what had already become one of the very best Little League programs in the state of Ohio during its first 41 seasons of operation.
       NOTE: A total of 25 Boardman Community Baseball-Boardman Youth Baseball-Boardman Little League teams have won either a state, regional or World Series championship. They are as follows:
      1976: Little League Softball, State Champions
      1978: Senior League, State Champions
      1981: Senior League (13-yr. old Baseball), State, Regional and World Series Champions. (Ray ‘Bags’ Bagdasarrian, manager, Ed Moore and Mike Kish, coaches.
      1981: Senior League, State Champions
      1982: Senior League (13-yr. old Baseball), State Champions
      1983: Senior League, State Champions
      1985: Little League Baseball, State Champions
      1987: Little League Baseball, State Champions
      1988: Senior League Softball, State Champions
      1992: Little League Baseball, State Champions
      1994: 10-U Softball, State Champions
      1996: Little League Baseball, State Champions
      2002: Junior League Softball, State Champions
      2005: Little League Baseball, State Champions
      2006: Junior League Baseball, State Champions
      2006: Junior League Girl’s, State Champions
      2007: Junior League Girl’s, State and Regional Champions; World Series Participants
      2011: 11-U Baseball, State Champions
      2013: 11-U Softball, State Champions
      2014: Junior League Softball, State Champions
      2014: Intermediate 50-70, State Champions
      2014: 11-U Softball, State Champions
      2016: 10-U Baseball, State Champions
      2017: 11-U Baseball, State Champions (Back-to-Back)
      2019: 11-U Baseball, State Champions (Did not get a chance to defend their title in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic) notes that 2021 is the 66th year for Boardman
 
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