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Newtown, Conn. kids to play like the Yankees

November 13, 2013  - By

Newtown_300The official sod grower of the New York Yankees — DeLea Sod Farms, in connection with Shemin Landscape Supply — has provided the sod for the newly rebuilt state-of-the-art Newtown Babe Ruth Field.

Shemin CEO Steffan Burns is a Sandy Hook parent. He knew firsthand that Newtown would be in need of a new field. When the town lost access to Sandy Hook School, they also lost access to the adjacent ball field. In addition, another field had been slated to be rebuilt but the construction project would be slowed due to the tragic events of December 14, 2012. Burns organized the mission to facilitate and accelerate the ball field rebuilding project. Shemin’s Greenwich location General Manager, Andrew Sebor, served as project donor and construction coordinator.

Babe Ruth Baseball is a strong program in Newtown, and it may be more important now than ever before. The goal of this rebuild project was to get the 5- to 7-year-old players — some of the kids who were impacted the most — back onto another playing field as quickly as possible. Adam Taylor, President of Newtown Babe Ruth Program, who spoke at the event said, “One of the priorities for us as a group was to try to bring this field back and give these kids an opportunity to play here again. We knew what we wanted to do but we had no idea how to do it.”

The ball field rebuild activities overseen by Shemin included excavation, retaining wall, drainage, irrigation, grading and topsoil, as well as sod placement by Yankees sod supplier DeLea Sod Farms, also a highly valued Shemin supplier. The sod used is bluegrass, as is the sod at Yankee Stadium.

Rick DeLea made it happen. “We wanted to make sure that these kids would get the thrill of playing on the very same sod we use at Yankee Stadium,” he said. Rocco Pennella, owner of Pennella Site Development which oversaw the grading, drainage and topsoil installation, said, “When we got a call for this, there was no doubt — no question — we were happy to help out.” Greenacres Company of Bethel, Conn., is a major resource for irrigation systems for athletic fields of all types. Owner Dave Pijnenburg said, “It’s great to see the kids enjoying this new field. This is what it’s all about.”

The total Shemin supplier and contractor commitment was in excess of $150,000, and within three months, the site went from a dirt base to a functional regulation ball field, keeping its original historic name of Watertown Field #1.

On September 28, at 12:00 pm, a dedication ceremony was held at the field on Old Farm Road in Newtown. Honored guests included: DeLea Sod Farms, Pennella Site Development, Greenacres Company, G.T. Oliveira, Hancor, Hunter Industries, Lebanon Turf, Lehtonen Construction, NDS, Paige Electric, Pennturf Landscaping, Solu-Cal USA, Stone Depot, Superior Rental, Valencia Work Group and Shemin Landscape Supply.

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra said in her address to the audience, “I’m really pleased and proud to be a part of this ceremony. Newtown has been the recipient of tremendous generosity and kindness from so many people, it’s overwhelming. I get teary a little bit when I talk about it — we’ve had a rough nine months.” A custom-designed bronze dedication plaque, which commemorates the event, was presented at the ceremony, and permanently installed behind home plate.

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