AUGUSTA — On a cold, snowy day in March, Keith Gleason and Rob Berube hiked the length of Augusta’s Piggery Road to get to McGuire Field. Once there, the duo shoveled snow until they hit the dirt behind McGuire Field’s home plate. That’s what they were there for.

“This was Evan’s office, for 30 years,” Gleason said, as he and Berube began chipping away to collect some of the frozen dirt.

Evan was Evan Gleason, Berube’s father-in-law and Gleason’s father. Evan died in March, and his family wanted to make sure a part of McGuire Field, a place where he umpired so many baseball games and had so much fun, would be with Evan forever.

When Gleason and Berube hiked back down the Piggery Road, they had enough McGuire Field dirt so that when Evan Gleason was buried, each family member was able to toss some onto the casket as it was lowered into the ground.

Keith Gleason told that story on Friday afternoon, as he and his family made sure that his father would be a part of McGuire Field for the foreseeable future.

Surrounded by friends and family, minutes before the Cony High School baseball team took on Oxford Hills, Gleason and his mother, Verna Gleason, made a $20,000 donation to the Capital Area Recreation Association. The money will be used to build a new backstop at McGuire Field, in honor of Evan Gleason.

“I tried, while he was alive, to donate some money, for a scoreboard or something, that he could enjoy when he came here and watched baseball games after he retired as an umpire. He didn’t want to do anything for himself,” Gleason said. “After he passed, the family got together and said we should do something in his honor and memory. What better way to let him live on than in the form of a backstop, where he umpired for 31 years? It was an easy decision.”

The new backstop will be constructed at McGuire Field in the fall, and it will be a much needed addition to the ballfield. The current backstop, a chain link fence that runs from dugout to dugout, is servicable, but has seen better days.

Baseball was a huge part of Evan Gleason’s life. His five children all were involved with the sport, the girls played softball, the boys played baseball, and Keith was a member of the Cony team that won the Class A state championship in 1990. It was on McGuire Field that Keith and his teammates defeated Bangor to advance to the state championship game, where they beat Oxford Hills, 10-5.

Keith only took the field once in a game in which his father umpired.

“I’ll never forget it. The whole time I was up to bat, I was thinking about what he was thinking, and how awkward it must’ve been to him. My dad was an honest man, and I knew he would call it a ball if it was a ball and a strike if it was a strike,” Gleason said. “I didn’t know the pitcher. I didn’t know the type of pitch that was coming. All I could think about was the umpire behind home plate.”

A few years ago, Evan Gleason celebrated his 70th birthday at Fenway Park, watching his beloved Boston Red Sox from the Monster Seats.

“Of course, the Red Sox brought us together,” Keith Gleason said.

His three decades as an umpire kept Evan Gleason involved and in touch with the game he loved. Now, his family is proud to know he’ll be a part of McGuire Field. Evan Gleason gave a lot to baseball. By donating the money for the new backstop, his family makes sure he still does.

“He didn’t do it for the money. He did it to be out on the ballfield, smelling the grass, hearing the baseball sounds,” Keith Gleason said. “He played ball all his life. He just loved baseball.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM