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Kids will play under lights at Halfway's Adenhart Field

May 04, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HALFWAY — Nick Adenhart has been considered the shining light for Halfway Little League for many years.

On Friday, the league assured that legacy will remain intact for many years to come.

Nicholas J. Adenhart Field at Martin Snook Park was illuminated during a pregame ceremony as the league completed a year-long project to make night baseball a reality. The lighting was a celebration to not only remember the late Halfway and Williamsport High baseball star, but provide a memorable experience for future players.

“We felt real strong about this,” said Janet Gigeous, Adenhart’s mother. “It was always about baseball for Nick, but then it was playing baseball under the lights. Nick never complained about playing, especially when it was under the lights.”

The field — and now the lights — is part of a complex named in memory of Adenhart, who died three years ago in a three-car accident in Fullerton, Calif., after pitching his season debut for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The project was financed mostly by a pair of grants from Pepsi Refresh Project and the Angels Baseball Foundation, along with a donation from the Nick Adenhart Memorial Fund, established by his family to help promote and support youth baseball.

“(Halfway league president Jack Jenkins) called to tell me that they were going to start a light project here,” Gigeous said. “When we heard that, we said we had to be involved.”

The fruits of the true labor of love were culminated with on-field ceremonies, complete with Gigeous and Doug Tapley of Tapley Electric throwing a makeshift switch to turn on the lights for the first time. The lever was pulled with the full complement of teams along with most of the volunteers and officials who helped make it a reality.

“We started this about a year ago,” said Jenkins. “I called Janet to see if she could help and she came through to cap it off. We had a lot of donors. Everyone in the community supported us,” Jenkins said. “It was more than just money.

“This is something we have planned for some time, but this puts an end to it all. It’s exciting. … Every kid wants to play baseball under the lights.”

And every one of them played with a small memory of Adenhart. A huge “34” — Adenhart’s number with the Angels — was painted on the turf in center field and every player wore a No. 34 jersey on Friday.

Jenkins credited Dan McCarthy for taking over the project and spearheading the drive to completion, which took many meetings and hours to bring together.

“This all started with an idea,” McCarthy said. “We knew it would be cost prohibitive because we are a non-profit (organization), but all the individuals and companies who are being recognized tonight have been tremendous. All the businesses were charitable with their time and equipment.

“The main goal for this was to create a top-rate facility for the kids and something they will be proud to play at.”

The ceremony included all the individuals and business and government representatives standing behind the pitcher’s mound.

“This site has been the home of Halfway Little League for 30 years,” the public address announcer said. “This is a magical site. As we look at the past, we are looking to the future to celebrate the realization of a dream: To be able to play baseball under the lights at the home ballpark.

“Nick is one of our own and his presence can be seen around the field. His spirit is alive.”

Before the ceremonial lighting, Tapley threw out the first pitch while every 12-year-old player stood behind home plate. Each player walked to the mound and presented everyone who had a hand in making the lights a reality a ball autographed by every one of them as a show of thanks.

“This is such a special place for all of us,” Gigeous said. “The fund is doing well because we keep getting donations from the (major league) players and Nick’s agent Scott Boras every year, especially around the anniversary of Nick’s death. But most of the money we have received is from right here in this area out of people’s own pockets. We wanted to make sure we gave back to them.

“They didn’t forget Nick. I’m happy. I know this is something that he would have done with his own money.”

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