SKOWHEGAN — Russ McMahon reported to the Carl Wright Baseball Complex at around 7 a.m. Saturday. It was just after noon, and McMahon expected to be there for at least another six or seven hours. Right now, with field No. 3 raked, watered and ready for the next game, McMahon had time to take a brief break.

“I remember playing on fields that were…,” McMahon’s voice trailed off as he shook his head and rolled his eyes. “It’s definitely an advantage for kids to play on fields that are in good shape.”

McMahon is just one of dozens of volunteers at the New England Cal Ripken 11-year-old championship tournament held this week in Skowhegan, making sure the teams enjoy a first class experience. Keeping the three fields at the Carl Wright Baseball Complex in tip-top shape is just one of the things that when going well, the teams will take for granted.

Teams from four of the six New England states came to Skowhegan for the tournament. Rhode Island and Vermont elected not to send a team, which meant two more Massachusetts squads are in the field. New Hampshire’s champion also chose not to come, sending runner-up Stratham instead. No matter where the teams come from, other than host Skowhegan, the state champion, and Andy Valley, the Maine representative from the Oxford Hills area, it’s a long trip. They deserve to have that commitment rewarded with a great tournament.

“The way I see it, if you’re going to do something, do it right. It’s a way to give back,” Amos Reid said. “I’m here for the whole tournament.”

Reid is one of the official scorers for the tournament, and he’s also a reserve umpire. Reid was at the Wright Complex at 9 a.m. Saturday, ready to work. Like McMahon, he expected an 11 or 12 hour day. Also like McMahon, Reid was looking forward to it.

“I’m a resident of Skowhegan. My last year of (youth baseball) was the first year this complex was used,” Reid, who will celebrate his 30th birthday in October, said. “Baseball is in my blood. When I played ball, you didn’t get as much exposure, and you need it. You need to feel pride in what you do, have some kind of sense of accomplishment.”

You could spot many of the tournament volunteers from the bright orange t-shirts they wore. A half dozen volunteers worked the concession stand overlooking all three ballfields. A few more worked the grills, cooking up hamburgers and hot dogs. A few more sold t-shirts. Like Reid, Chris Jarvais was acting as an official scorekeeper. Jarvais said he’d do four games on Saturday. It was nothing.

“It’s fun. This is the first baseball I’ve seen all summer,” Jarvais said.

McMahon worked on a crew of five getting the fields ready. As soon as the morning games on fields one and three were complete, the crew was in action. Within 15 minutes, each field was in pristine condition once again, ready for another game. They had the speed and efficiency of an auto race pit crew. McMahon named three other youth baseball tournaments Skowhegan has hosted since June. They were ready for this.

“We’ve got a good familiarity with what we’re doing,” McMahon said, adding his wife, Angela, would arrive in the afternoon to volunteer five hours in the concession stand.

This is the second New England Cal Ripken tournament Skowhegan has hosted in three years. The town also hosted the 11-year-old tournament in 2014. Reggie Hatfield, the state Cal Ripken commissioner, is from Norridgewock, Skowhegan’s neighboring town. He’s seen for years what the volunteers here can do. Hatfield’s not surprised Skowhegan was willing and able to host another New England tournament so soon after the last one.

“You can’t get better help than what they have here,” Hatfield said.

If they’re doing it right, and they are, the volunteers will barely be noticed by the players. They’ll just know the fields are ready, the postgame awards are handed out, and the hot dogs are tasty. When the teams have nothing to worry about except what happens between the white lines, it’s a perfect tournament.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

<URL destination=””>[email protected]

</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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