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Beatty park getting ready to play ball again

There was a time when Beatty was an avid ball playing town. Local businesses sponsored adult softball teams that competed with each other and teams from other communities, and, at one time, Beatty had as many as nine Little League baseball teams.

Folks would gather in the evening to sit in bleachers and lawn chairs to watch games, cheer for their friends and teams, and enjoy refreshments from a snack stand. It was small town Norman Rockwell Americana.

Then softball players aged, children grew up, and interest faded. The softball field in Cottonwood Park was sodded over, and the new softball field, once used by the high school softball team, fell victim to disuse, disrepair, and weeds.

Starla Gallagher, who once had a coffee shop in Beatty and recently returned to town, is hoping to revive recreational play, starting with youth and adult ball.

This effort requires a lot of work and the participation of volunteers. Gallagher said she was told that people wouldn’t turn out to volunteer, but she said she preferred to get started and “give them the benefit of doubt.”

Erika Gerling, who used to run the Little League program in Beatty, donated everything she had in storage for the effort, so there is plenty of equipment and uniforms for the kids.

Getting the softball field into usable condition is a major challenge. The outfield grass is gone, and the hard-packed ground has gone to weeds, so the first volunteer efforts, Feb. 7 and 8, focused on clearing weeds.

Picnic tables also needed sanding and repainting. The Beatty General Improvement District, which owns the field, has been helping with repairs to the restroom facilities.

Gallagher hopes that the weeds can be eliminated later on by “tarping,” the process of covering the ground with heavy black tarps, so that when weed seeds germinate, they are killed by heat. The ground needs to be tilled first, and she hopes to find someone with a farm-type tiller to help get that done.

Games are scheduled to be played on Saturdays, beginning February 22, with the youngest children playing at 4 p.m., older children at 5 p.m., and adults at 6 p.m.

The last day for children and adults to register to participate is February 17, and there is a $7 registration fee per child to help with expenses. Adults can play for free. Registration forms should be available at Beatty schools.

Gallagher says she has had a number of parents and other adults say they are willing to volunteer, including one who has umpiring experience.

Her plan is for a more extensive recreation program involving not only baseball, but basketball, soccer, tennis and flag football.

“When I was a child, I had all these opportunities because other people volunteered to make it possible for me,” she says, adding that it was now her turn to provide opportunities for others.

Richard Stephens is a freelance reporter living in Beatty.

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