Published in the December 18, 2018 edition.


WAKEFIELD – The Wakefield Memorial High School varsity girls’ softball team plays its home games at Veterans Field — a facility designed for the men’s slow pitch game — because there currently isn’t a place for them on the WMHS campus.

Some members of the Meghan Burnett Foundation would like to change that, and they appeared before the School Committee last week during public participation to provide a preliminary look at what might be done to upgrade Blatz Field to a regulation high school softball field. Blatz Field is in an area behind and between the high school and the Woodville School. It is sometimes used by Little League baseball teams.

Bob Burnett of White Avenue and David Story of Stark Avenue made a brief presentation to give the School Committee an idea of what they had in mind for Blatz Field. They also provided copies of photos and diagrams, along with a narrative statement.

“We (the petitioners) are involved with the Meghan Burnett Foundation and are hoping the renovated field can be dedicated to Meghan,” the statement read in part. “It would be one of the few (if any) fields in the league dedicated to a woman. She was a stellar student-athlete, a role model who epitomized what we want our young people to strive for, and softball was one of her life-long loves. She was an avid softball player from Little League through varsity, a three-year starter for the WHS Varsity team until sidelined by the health problem her senior year, two-time captain, multiple times named a Middlesex League All-Star and her junior year was selected as one of the Boston Herald Pre-Season Players to Watch.”

Using a slide presentation, Bob Burnett (Meghan’s father) described Blatz as “not really in great shape.” He offered photos of the current conditions as well as images of what an upgraded field could look like.

Burnett said that under the proposed plan, the new field would stay within the limits of the current field but would be shifted about 25 feet up the left field line. He showed an aerial photo of a field in Melrose as an example of what could be done. The plan would include dugouts and bullpens, a new backstop and an outfield fence 200 feet from home plate.

The narrative statement provided by the proponents outlines a possible timeline.

“Unfortunately, with the timeline required for approvals (May), the softball field construction cannot be completed in time for the varsity team to play their 2019 season there, but we can get it in place for the entirety of the 2020 season. That will affect a lot of high school softball players. Some will finish their high school careers on a great field while others will play their entire high school careers there.”

The proponents also provided a potential budget of $196,000 for the work. There was no discussion last week regarding a source for those funds.

School Committee Chairman Thomas Markham suggested scheduling an agenda item for a meeting in January and invited Burnett and Story back for for a more in-depth discussion of the field proposal at that time. He said that the School Committee couldn’t really engage in a discussion unless it was on the agenda.

“We want to hear more,” Markham assured Burnett and Story.

Burnett and Story were receptive to returning at a future meeting.

“We’re looking to the School Committee to support our efforts to get a new field,” Story said. “It’s time. It’s overdue.”