By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – On the heels of the groundbreaking for the new Grapeland Elementary School, the new Grapeland Sandies baseball field celebrated its grand opening on Friday, March 23.
The dirt around home plate, the pitcher’s mound and between the bases was neatly raked while the infield and outfield grass was in pristine shape. The lights flickered to life on the light poles and they lit up the nighttime sky as the game between the Sandies and North Zulch Bulldogs reached the middle innings.
Prior to the game, however, a brief ceremony/celebration was held to commemorate the opening of Sandie Field, behind the football field and adjacent to the softball field.
Grapeland ISD Superintendent Don Jackson opened the festivities and said last year the voters had passed a bond to build a new elementary school. He explained the site chosen for the new school was where the old baseball field sits.
“Today, we would like to say thanks to all of those who helped get our field ready. On our school board, we had a subcommittee (to help with the baseball field) of Allen Cheatham, Josh Goolsby and Mitchell Huff. Our other board members are Melissa Cobb, James Martin, Paul Oliver and Eddie Childress,” the GISD superintendent said.
Jackson also expressed his thanks to: Dick and Jason Bridges of Bartee Construction; GHS FFA Advisor Gary Graham and his Ag students; Stephen and Mitchell Huff of Huff Welding; Roger Kellum with Double K Concrete; Ty Richards; Grapeland Baseball Coach Cameron Besetzny; architect Tim Howard; surveyor James Rowden; and GISD Athletic Director Wayne Mahaffey.
At the conclusion of his opening remarks, Jackson asked Mitchell Huff to say a few words.
“I just want to say thank you to all the guys who helped and donated their time. We had a whole bunch of them and without their help, this field would not have been possible. That fence,” he added as he gestured to the outfield fence, “would not have been up.”
Huff also thanked several people involved with the construction of the field including: Eddie Childress; Allen Cheatham; Josh Goolsby; Tim Howard; Charles Anthony; Trampus Driskell; Lawrence Richie and Taylor Huff.
Following Huff’s comments, the superintendent asked Coach Besetzny to say a few words.
“Thank you to everyone who helped with this field. It is really appreciated. These guys (the Sandies) got to take infield (practice) on it the last few days and it was the difference between night and day (compared to the old field). Thank you,” Besetzny said.
Once Besetzny finished, the ceremonial first pitch was thrown as GISD Board Members Allen Cheatham, Eddie Childress, Mitchell Huff, and Josh Goolsby, along with architect Tim Howard, threw to Grapeland players Case Boyd, Franco Rea, Camarron Mixon, Ethan Peterson and Blake Howard.
The final word was reserved for Assistant Sandies Baseball Coach Matthew Gayle who leaned into the microphone and uttered those immortal words, “Play Ball!”
The Sandies did just that as Josh Ackley and Austin Driskell combined on a no-hitter as the Sandies blasted the North Zulch Bulldogs by a final score of 10-0 in the first ever game at Sandie Field.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.