The Hosmer Athletic Complex in Rumford continues to be a vital part of the community.
RUMFORD – The mere mention of the name stirs a vast array of memories because the Hosmer Athletic Complex has long been a source of pride and entertainment in the greater Rumford area.
The complex actually is very unique in its layout and it receives plenty of use. The most important tenants are the Mountain Valley High School athletic teams, who practice and play home games there, every spring and fall.
The multi-purpose facility includes a baseball field, a paved track encompasses the football field, which also serves as the field for soccer and lacrosse. The upper end has four fenced-in tennis courts.
Hosmer is town-owned and is well-maintained by the Parks Department. A high degree of cooperation is required between SAD 43, which rents the fields and courts, and the Parks Commission.
The land was donated to the town several decades ago and Hosmer Field has continued to serve the River Valley. “We receive our schedules from the schedule makers of the various leagues in which we play,” Mountain Valley athletic director John Bernard said. “The Campbell Conference football schedule is less flexible, but with the Mountain Valley Conference sports, we have more flexibility to adjust our schedules. Communication is very vital, so once the schedules are set, I post them on the Internet.” Parks Supervisor Kent Harlow can then access the schedules, so that he knows when we will be needing the fields. Harlow can then schedule maintenance and irrigating schedules. “It has worked very well,” Bernard said. “Kent and his crew do a great job with the fields to provide a safe and attractive venue for our athletes. With Kent’s knowledge of fertilizers and irrigation, Kevin Grassette, and other members of his crew, the complex is one of, if not the, best facility of any on which our kids play.”
Last spring, rains forced numerous cancellations, so many schools had their backs to the wall trying to get their scheduled games in.
Some opponents’ fields were still unplayable, and the Falcons played two “away” baseball games at Hosmer because the field was in great condition.
Diamond in the rough
Each field has its own history and features some interesting nooks and crannies. The baseball field, located beside Lincoln Avenue, is always in prime condition. The outfield grass is green and the diamond stands out with red clay. The infield was done over two years ago, and irrigation was installed to help with the up keep. The wooden bleachers behind home plate are covered and provide fans with excellent viewing. I do think we have one of the best complexes in the state,” said Parks chairman Rick White. “I don’t know of a lot of complexes in the state that can boast about what is offered here. There are a number of athletic fields and various activities to enjoy.”
Prior to the advent of television, baseball was truly America’s Pastime. Each game drew huge crowds. The bleachers extended beyond third base.
The football field has been host to numerous battles, including the VFW semi-pro team that won state titles, following World War II. The annual rivalry games between Rumford and Mexico High Schools were played on Veterans Day, until 1974. The bad blood that existed- via competition- in this blue-collar community, ceased when the school systems merged in 1989.
In the fall regular season, the Falcons host 53 varsity and junior varsity games. In the spring, they host three-track meets and 53 varsity and JV events. Scrimmages and playoffs would add to the total.
On crisp Friday nights, the most-recognized sight is from Waldo Street. A cobalt blue and white painted Falcon stands out from the 50-yard line. The metal bleachers are packed, and fans are lined up around the field. Visiting teams are greeted by bellowing smoke rising out of stacks at the paper mill.
“I think we have done a lot to the complex over the years,” White said. “But a big improvement came with the new bleachers (for the football field). This benefits all the people that come to the game. It gives them better seating and a better view of the game. The lighting improvements that were made 15 years ago gave us one of the best lit fields around. This added to the safety of the players during night games.”
The football field was resurfaced four years ago, proving a safer playing surface. The new marquee sign lets people know what is going on at the complex.
The complex also provides plenty of enjoyment for all ages. During the winter, a skating rink allows the younger generation to burn off excess energy. The track is used by the mature population and a paved-walking path snakes through trees next to the Swift River.
White, a longtime Falcon coach, has been lining the fields at the complex for 23 years, starting out doing football and soccer. Lacrosse started in 1990 and White, the “Picasso of turf”, also did the baseball field before recently giving the duty to Ryan Palmer. The old ball grounds, located across Lincoln Avenue, has three enclosed little league fields. The Falcons softball team plays on one, which routinely floods when the Androscoggin and Swift Rivers collide. The only other drawback is that, because the school district doesn’t own the fields,” Benard said. “We lose some autonomy when it comes to when we can get on the fields to practice. Football games are impossible to reschedule because you only play once a week, and our home games have traditionally been played on Friday nights. Other sports that play multiple times a week have more flexibility. But again, through communication, we’ve been able to amicably address these issues.”
Plans are to extend the walking trails, increase parking and build a new garage. The automated scoreboards will be replaced. There’s a Horseshoe League and covering the pits has been considered. “The one thing we currently do not have is a quality track,” White said. “The one we have is adequate. but it needs a lot of work on the sub-surface. This is a very costly item and we will look at that in future years after a lot of the other things have been taken care of.”
“There’s a lot of civic pride,” White said. “I don’t think there is one person that has attended a game or event at the complex that has not commented on what a nice complex we have had.”