BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – Massachusetts Maritime Academy will celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of the Commodore William R. Hendy Baseball Field on Saturday, April 28, at 11:40 a.m. The diamond's history already includes three conference championships by the Buccaneers and was the home of the Cape Cod League's Bourne Braves for a decade. Now featuring a new all-turf surface, Hendy Field is poised to play an even more significant role in south-eastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod baseball as it begins a new chapter.
When the Academy first started its baseball program in 1973, the team was packed on buses and sent to Keith Field in Sagamore, home also at various times to Cape Cod League teams. The ballpark, crammed into a space between Sandwich Road and the railroad, is famous for its short right field fence and wall, over which any balls are awarded only a double.
In 1980, Maritime built a field at its current location, but after a quarter-century of use, the Academy decided in early 2016 that it was time to upgrade to a state-of-the-art facility. With the support of Academy President Admiral Francis X. McDonald, Vice President of Operations and Maintenance Paul O'Keefe, and Paul Forgione of the Massachusetts State Building Authority, work was undertaken over the autumn and winter of 2017-18.
"We wanted a field that was multi-functional and offered more flexible usage," explained Head Coach and Acting Athletic Director Mike Kelley. "This allowed us to take some of the stress off our athletes, who had to practice late in the evening when the baseball field was unavailable due to weather. We now have three all-weather fields available for our students."
A series of nor'easters delayed the completion of the field, though the turf was fully laid in February. Four games had to be cancelled or postponed and the decision was made to celebrate the Grand Re-Opening in the final weekend of play. The first official game on the new surface was on March 27 against Becker College, a 5-0 win thanks to two doubles by senior Connor Kennedy and a superb pitching performance by sophomore Matt Smith, who struck out eight in eight shutout innings.
The ceremony will mark the final homestand of the 2018 regular season and feature Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference rivals Worcester State University, which enters at 5-5 in the conference and 11-21 overall. Maritime baseball has a 41-42 record all-time against the Lancers.
After fans are welcomed to the event at 11:40, the ceremonial first pitches will be thrown by Admiral McDonald, legendary retired Buccaneer Head Coach and Athletic Director Bob Corradi, and by Cmdr. Hendy's three sons, John, Thomas, and Bill. The Buccaneers will then take the field with members of Bourne Youth Baseball. The ceremony will conclude with the national anthem, supported by the MMA Honor Guard and the Bourne Fire Department, which will suspend the American flag in center field.
"This field is something that our athletes deserve," observed Kelley. "We run a first-class athletic department and they deserve first-class playing fields and equipment. I just wish all of our past players had been able to play on this beautiful surface."
"I'm thrilled that our baseball team can now compete on a state-of-the-art field that won't freeze or flood during our typical shortened seasons, which will also be available for community camps and events throughout the year," commented Admiral McDonald.
The Grand Re-Opening is sure to be a memorable occasion and reinforce Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Hendy Field as one of the signature locations for baseball in south-eastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod. Fans are welcome to pack a picnic and bring blankets and lawn chairs to join distinguished guests, including the Cape Cod League administration and team managers, former players, and other friends of Buccaneer Baseball.
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate