The softball infield at Jared Henderson Memorial Field in Hartford gets worked on to be made playable this summer. Submitted photo

Honoring the past and supporting the present and future all came together in Hartford this month. 

Jared Henderson Memorial Field on Church Street will once again host games, and the Buckfield area youth athletes that will take the field will get to salvage some normalcy this summer after the coronavirus all but wiped out the spring seasons of all sports. 

The softball infield at Jared Henderson Memorial Field in Hartford was overgrown before volunteers began working on it to make it playable. Submitted photo

Buckfield Recreation Committee member Jess McGreevy said the field was dedicated in 1998 to the memory of Henderson, who died in a tragic accident and came from a big family in Hartford. However, for the past decade, the field has fallen into disrepair, according to Brian Hooper, who helped lead the charge in fixing up Jared Henderson Memorial Field. 

“We discussed it at our (Buckfield Recreation Committee) meeting about a month ago, when we were trying to figure out how we were going to make Rec happen for the kids, and decided that we should fix this and utilize it,” Hooper said. “It’s a great area to be able to park cars on the side of the field so that we can maximize spectators, because spectators in a car don’t count towards the 50-person gathering that we’re stuck under right now. So that was where it started, about a month ago.” 

Hooper said Timmy Spencer, part of the ownership group of Spencer Group Paving and whose daughter previously played in the Buckfield Rec softball program, heard about the consideration of fixing up the field, and Hooper said, “he contacted me and offered up his services.” 

“It was in pretty rough condition,” said McGreevy, who also is Dirigo High School’s athletic director and coaches the Buckfield 12U softball team that will call the field home this season. “The sign says 1998, and I remember playing at a different field in this complex, and it’s all kind of grown up as of right now.” 

Hooper said the grass portion of the field “was in decent shape” but the dirt infield “hadn’t been taken care of in quite some time.” He said 6 to 8 inches of infield was dug up and Spencer Group Paving supplied the field “with the material to revitalize it, let’s say.” 

Jackson Hooper, son of Buckfield Recreation Committee member Brian Hooper, stands next to one of the many truck loads of overgrowth that were taken away to make Jared Henderson Memorial FIeld in Hartford playable. Submitted photo

Hooper, whose daughter Emma plays on McGreevy’s team, along with McGreevy’s daughter Charlotte, estimated that 10-15 people have been involved in the project so far, which also has included work on the dugouts. 

“It was important for us to really fix it, and fix it right this time. You know, it’s a memorial for Jared and hopefully it brings his family some smiles,” said Hooper, whose wife is Jared Henderson’s cousin. “But yeah, it was important. Once Timmy reached out to us, we figured if we could make this happen, we were really excited to do this for them.” 

McGreevy said she’s hoping to get the family to the field this season “to do a little ceremony (for a) rededication.” 

The first game on the fixed-up field is scheduled for Monday, when Buckfield is set to host South Paris. 

McGreevy said the Buckfield team, which accepts children from Buckfield, Hartford and Sumner, is playing in the Andy Valley league this year after only it and Lewiston from the Androscoggin Youth Softball League decided to move ahead with their seasons. Along with South Paris and Lewiston, Buckfield will play teams from Oxford, Harrison, Otisfield, West Paris, Minot and Mechanic Falls. McGreevy said when her team matches up against Lewiston that the games will be played at Jared Henderson Memorial Field, even when Lewiston is the home team, since Lewiston is down to only one open softball field this summer. 

“We’re trying to find creative ways to play because there’s not a lot of fields available,” McGreevy said. 

Buckfield Rec softball coach Jess McGreevy applies a fresh coat of paint to a dugout at Jared Henderson Memorial Field in Hartford, the team’s home field this summer. Submitted photo

The Buckfield softball team will still utilize its normal field at Buckfield’s Cross Road complex some days, but the Rec baseball teams will be playing their games there as well this summer, and the Rec committee is trying to keep within accordance of the 50-person-maximum gathering limit. 

Jared Henderson Memorial Field will be the softball team’s new home this summer, and maybe beyond. 

“We’re trying to make the field a really beautiful field, and one that we can keep up for years to come,” McGreevy said. “There’s space for three different fields at that complex. So we’re thinking about maybe keeping the work going, but we couldn’t have done this without the help of individuals and the businesses that have been helping out.” 

Hooper singled out Phil St. Pierre, Mert Buzzell and Brendan Harvey, in addition to members of his and his wife’s families and McGreevy and Spencer, for volunteering to make the field playable for the softball team and its opponents. 

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