More than 100 volunteers make major renovations to Middletown park’s baseball, softball diamonds

While they came from different backgrounds with various construction experience, they wore the same orange Home Depot T-shirts to volunteer for a singular mission: Improve Goldman Park for Middie Way baseball and softball players.

On April 13, more than 100 community volunteers, including those from Home Depot, the company that presented Middie Way a $9,000 grant, made major renovations to two diamonds at Goldman Park.

They built roofs over four benches to protect the players and coaches from the intense summer sun, painted hundreds of feet of chain-link fence and picked up rocks in the infield.

Middie Way Commissioner Greg Schwarber, a retired Middletown police chief and father of Kyle Schwarber, who plays for the Philadelphia Phillies, said two of the six fields were improved with the goal of fixing the other fields next year if another grant is awarded.

“As nice as we can,” he said when asked about the park’s appearance.

It was a total team effort.

Besides Home Depot, the volunteers represented the Middletown Kiwanis Club, Middletown High School Key Club, Middie Way board members, parents and players, the city of Middletown, Master Enterprises and Bohannon Roofing.

This will be the third season for Middie Way Baseball, a grassroots organization that is reviving youth baseball and softball in the community. In the city’s heyday, the baseball diamonds at Smith Park were filled with more than 1,000 players, Schwarber said.

This year nearly 350 kids are signed-up for baseball and softball, he said. This is the first year for fast-pitch softball after the Middletown Youth Softball Association closed.

Middie Way has enough softball players for one team, he said.

“It’s a start,” Schwarber said.

Regardless of the number of participants, the players will experience better conditions this year.

Brian Sorrell, a Middie Way board member who handles the association’s Facebook page, described Goldman Park as “beat down and broke.”

He was impressed by what he witnessed that day.

“It was awesome to see the community come together,” said Sorrell, 48, a 1993 Middletown High School graduate who played youth baseball at Smith Park. “You could see the pride and happiness.”

Larry Aylward, operations manager for a Home Depot distribution center, said there were more than 100 volunteers, including 15 from Home Depot. The company supports these types of causes because that’s part of Home Depot’s values, he said.

He said the park went through “a major transformation” and he hopes the community understands Home Depot was part of the process.

David Pearce, a Middletown Park Board member, said he admired and appreciated the work completed by the volunteers. He said the renovations at Goldman will allow the city to spend some of the $2 million earmarked for parks on safety improvements and playground equipment at the park.

While Middletown Kiwanis member Marla Marsh, still recovering from her second kidney transplant, couldn’t help with construction, she sat and watched the workers.

She wondered whether the seeds for the city’s next Major League Baseball player were planted on the dusty diamonds.

“You never know if one of those will be the next Kyle,” she said, referring to Kyle Schwarber, who was introduced to baseball at Smith Park.

If that doesn’t happen – the odds are astronomical – Marsh said the players will be taught “discipline and kindness” during the season.

And right now, we need more of that.


WHAT: Middie Way Opening Day Ceremony

WHEN: 9 a.m. April 27

WHERE: Goldman Park

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