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Play Ball! Optimist Field gets new outfield

Construction crews have evened out the outfield. New sod will soon be placed to finish off the field on Milton Avenue.

Construction crews have evened out the outfield. New sod will soon be placed to finish off the field on Milton Avenue. Photo by Amanda Seef.

— A new set of cleats will call Optimist Field home this year — the county-wide fall ball program will be playing at the field nestled on the town and village line on Milton Avenue.

In order to prepare for the traditional summer league sponsored by the Camillus Youth Softball and Baseball Association, and for the incoming fall ball program, the field is getting some upgrades.

“This field was built on a landfill and it had extreme variances in topography,” said Bob Antonacci, the organizer of the fall ball program. “It was far from a flat surface.”

Construction crews have been in the outfield grading the dirt below. They’ll soon plant new sod and grass for the season, which begins in June. A few years ago, the infield was rehabbed in an agreement between the CSBA and the town of Camillus.

The outfield improvements are being made at no cost to the town — Antonacci, who is also the county comptroller, has yielded some donations for initial payments on the work, and the rest will be paid for through fundraising by both Antonacci and the CSBA.

“It’s time for some freshness,” said Gil Schnorr, president of the CSBA. More than 100 kids use that field between the nine Babe Ruth teams, he said.

The kids in the Babe Ruth program will use the field until mid-July or early August, and it will then be turned over to Antonacci’s fall ball program.

This is the second year of the county-wide fall ball program, which puts interested kids on the field for a few extra months a year. The idea for the league came to Antonacci after his 14-year-old son became more involved in the sport that he, himself, played for much of his childhood.

“As my son got older and I got back into baseball, all of those memories kept coming back,” he said. “We used to put the glove down July 15 and I could never understand why we weren’t playing baseball in August and September.”

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