RAINELLE, W.Va. (WVDN) – Baseball field maintenance is always a tough job. Whether raking the infield, putting the lines down or extending the fence distance, it can be a time-consuming project.
However, there is something even tougher than that, and that is reconstructing a whole park and building a brand new one from scratch.
That is what Travis Martin, Billy Holliday and some groups of people (board members, parents and volunteers) are tackling now for the Western Greenbrier Little League. WGLL took a hiatus a couple of years ago and with the stoppage, the kids went to a different area to be able to play, and it was then that Martin realized a plan needed to come together for the WGLL.
“It’s all thanks to Covid, kind of,” Martin said.
When Covid hit in 2020, WGLL shut down for two years. During this time, a few of us came to play at Central. This opportunity allowed us to see that we had a lot of work to do to catch up. Central’s members have helped us tremendously with answering questions and guidance, from rules to vendors,” Martin explained.
In Spring 2022, the league started over with a few old members and several new ones, and with the help of donations, things started to take a positive turn.
“We had a bunch of local businesses donate, which helped with jerseys and gear to get rolling,” Martin said.
“In the meantime, we requested multiple Grants and were awarded several (DK Cales, Greenbrier County Arts and Rec Grants, Pittsburgh Pirates FFK, Seneca Foundation). We took those and went to work in the fall of 2022,” he continued.
And from there, the hard work and progress started for Martin and Holliday, who are the “boots to the ground” workers.
“We tried to address the easiest areas or fields to renovate which were Smoot and Rainelle. We built a new batting cage at Smoot. We had plans to build a matching cage at Rainelle but could not get it approved in time to get the funding dispersed. We have completed the batting cage at Smoot, rebuilt pitching machines, regraded the area surrounding the field for drainage and access, and installed light poles. We are currently trying to acquire funding to install and finish the lights, as well as perform some grade work on the field,” Martin said.
After that project is completed, another field on the Western end of the county is next on the t-do list mainly because more is needed.
“Once Smoot is wrapped up, we are shifting our focus to Rupert. We are in desperate need of another Little League field in this area. Our goal is to build a completely new field equipped with lighting. We are also pursuing and trying to acquire a dormant building in Rainelle or surrounding area to setup as a headquarters that is large enough to setup nets and cages for winter workouts for boys of all ages,” said Martin.
With the work being put in, the league has felt a new excitement and a rejuvenated feeling, and Martin says with the growth of the league, they had to do something to give the kids more access to playing time.
“We had around 180 kids last year. With all the excitement and enthusiasm growing, we had 240 register this year. We have 22 Little League teams, 10 or more softball teams and only two fields with lights,” Martin said.
“It will be a challenge to get everyone adequate practice time,” he said.
If anyone wants to help or sponsor the current and new construction, Martin would love to work with them.
“With all of this, I just keep thinking swing for the fence and see what happens. It has literally become a second home for us,” Martin concluded.