AUGUSTA — As a half dozen teams from central Maine played in a baseball league this fall, work went on around them toward improvements at Morton and McGuire fields on the Piggery Road.

The fields, maintained by the Augusta Babe Ruth League, are homes to Cony High School baseball, two middle school teams, Babe Ruth and American Legion teams as well as tournaments during the spring and summer. Improvements this summer and fall included installing drainage and overhauling the infield and mound at McGuire Field as well as installing railings and mats to the bleachers at both fields.

“I was over there today,” Joe Linscott said Tuesday. “It’s winding down right now.”

Linscott is on the Babe Ruth league’s board of directors and calls the 10-acre complex his home away from home. Along with other board members and some prerelease workers from the Department of Corrections, drainage work at McGuire Field was completed in three weeks at a cost of around $12,000.

“We did have donations of a lot of materials,” Linscott said. “All of the labor we provided.”

Drainage at adjacent Morton Field was completed a couple of years ago. Both fields were built in low-lying areas that attract a lot of water, especially in the spring. Drainage was installed over a little more than half the field at McGuire from center field to the right field line.

“The half we did is working great, the other half not quite as well,” Linscott said. “After all the rain we’ve had it’s obvious we’re going to have to do the other half. It’s not as big an area.”

Sports Fields of Monmouth removed lips that had built up along the infield for several years, rebuilt the pitching mound and restored cut-out areas in the infield to their original dimensions. LInscott said the lips in the infield acted as a dike and water formed in ponds that delayed games for some time after rain.

Bleacher improvements at both fields cost around $11,000 and made them code compliant. At Morton Field which seats 1,700, hand railings were installed along the aisles, entrances and exits were made more convenient and safer and non skid mats were installed on steps and walkways. The several sets of wooden and aluminum bleachers at McGuire Field seat around 800 fans. The aluminum bleachers have been fitted with hand rails and chain link fencing installed on the back and sides. The wooden bleachers down each foul line have been rebuilt with additional planking and kick boards. Fencing is also being installed along the back and sides.

Total cost of the project is around $27,000, some coming from donations, money raised by the Babe Ruth League through concessions and its annual golf tournament and from the Capital Area Recreation Association, the umbrella organization for the facilities along the Piggery Road, which include four baseball fields, two softball fields, three soccer fields, two all-purpose fields, horseshoe pits and a basketball court.

The Eastern Maine Class A regional and Class A state championship games are scheduled for the fields next spring and Linscott said there’s a strong possibility the American Legion state tournament will be held there as well.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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