By Fred Stabbert III
CALLICOON Move over Citi Field. Step aside Yankee Stadium.
While the big league players to the south are enjoying their new digs in The Big Apple, two local softball teams will be the envy of the Western Sullivan Softball Beer League as they unveil their ‘new field’ this summer.
Darder Stone Works and R & H Gorr joined forces this spring to revitalize the Delaware Community Center in Callicoon, which had been without a softball field since the devastating floods of 2006.
“Todd [Houghtaling] and I got permission to use the field from the Youth Center,” Forest Darder said last Saturday morning. “We told them we were going to fix it up.”
With a lot of volunteer labor from both teams, and some generous donations from local businesses and families, the Youth Center will again hear the cracks of bats and roars of the crowd this summer.
“We have it here,” Houghtaling, referring to a nice ballpark, said. “It’s the next best thing [to Yankee stadium].”
Years ago, the field hosted everything from Little League to the Callicoon Cougars, an adult baseball team which played in the Mountain League. Later it served as the home field for Delaware Valley Central School. Many of the men who worked on restoring the field remembered their playing days in high school.
“I can’t give enough credit to Todd Houghtaling and R & H Gorr,” Darder said.
Houghtaling ran heavy machinery many nights during the past several weeks to grade and roll the infield to get the playing surface up to speed.
The players then “set” foul poles down the left and right field lines and even constructed an outfield homerun fence, to give batters something to swing for.
“Both of our teams never had really good fields [so we decided to fix up this one],” Darder said.
The lumber for the dugouts was donated by R & H Gorr and the Hornicek and Darder families donated the outfield fence stakes.
Darder said Delaware Valley Agway was also very helpful with the other materials they needed.
“We are just excited,” Darder said. “We limed it and it is going to come up green.”
Darder also thanked Delaware Youth Center caretakers Lloyd and Dolores Bassney for the extreme care they give the field and surrounding park.
“We hope to have a tournament here this summer,” Darder said. “The more they [the community} use it, the better.”
Tess McBeath, president of the Youth Center, said, “It will be nice to have a field people can play on. It’s been a mess since 2006.”