Day 8 – The Hills and Thrills of Northern Rhode Island Baseball Fields

Just a quick recap of my Rhode Island Baseball Field Bike Relay Ride – I have made it to 37 incredible baseball fields spanning the State of Rhode Island. From Little Compton to Coventry, Tiverton to Westerly, Chariho to Woonsocket, and I have enjoyed every mile on my bike. I have rode through small towns and quaint villages. I have climbed massive hills and coasted through scenic bike paths. It has been a joy to bring you the many splendid baseball fields of Rhode Island. And I have so many more to cover so let’s get onto Day 8…

Day 8 started at Garvin Field, one of the many amazing fields of Cumberland Youth Baseball and Softball League, aka CYBSL. I follow just about youth baseball league on social media and saw a post on CYBSL’s site that Garvin was getting some work done on it. I was eager to see the progress and was not disappointed. The field looked incredible and I love the neighborhood feel of this park. It is situated behind Garvin School on Diamond Hill Rd and also features a batting cage and playground area. Garvin is just down the road from Bentley Field, which I was able to photograph last fall. Great tradition of baseball in Cumberland and a great start to Day 8.

From Cumberland, I found the Blackstone River Bikeway which allowed me to cross over into Lincoln, through neighborhoods and over to River Road and Randy Hien Field. Hien Field is the home of Lincoln Little League and is a Rhode Island baseball field gem. Hien hosts district and state tournaments each year and is one of the best maintained fields I have ever visited in Rhode Island. Quick story, a few years back I was at Hien taking photos of the field and a man stopped me to inquire what I was doing. I told him about The RIBBE and its mission and he introduced himself “Oh, I can tell you more about Lincoln Little League, my name is John Sharkey.” Sharkey’s fingerprints are in every corner of the field, the press box, the dugouts, the bleachers – having spent decades working tirelessly to promote baseball in Lincoln. Great to meet John and meet a Rhode Island baseball legend.

When I map out the rides for my baseball field tour, I use Google Maps to show me the safest route possible on a bicycle. I take a few glances of the route prior to each ride. Whether you are planning a short ride or an extended ride, make sure you use bicycle “approved” roads and streets for safety purposes. And always try to use the bike path whenever possible, as these connect a lot of our towns, villages, and communities here in Rhode Island.

That all being said, the bike route from Lincoln to my next stop in Smithfield was all about the hills. Hills that do not exist in my hometown of North Kingstown, which is mostly laid out at or around sea level. The hills of Smithfield were challenging and daunting at times. I had to really dig deep to climb a few of them, and then brace myself on the descent once I was on the top. From Lincoln, I rode through neighborhood after neighborhood with families out enjoying the fall, cleaning up from the recent tropical storm, having BBQ’s, until I made it all the way up Whipple Road, then down a gigantic decline to Whipple Field. Whipple Field is one of the many baseball fields for Smithfield Little League. Another quick story – I was photographing Whipple a few years back and ran into a man mowing the outfield grass. He, like John Sharkey of Lincoln, stopped and asked me what I was doing, and I explained to him about The RIBBE. Turns out he was the Smithfield Little League President, working on the fields and making sure they were ready for an upcoming weekend tournament. It takes incredible volunteers to run youth sports and I applaud each and every one who takes time out their day to make someone else’s day better.

One of the reasons why I stopped by Whipple Field was to promote an upcoming event called Wiffle at Whipple – Strike Out Cancer for Noah. You can learn more about this event, how to register, and why the event is so special to the Town of Smithfield. In short, the tournament is being held to support Noah Antunes, a 10-year-old baseball player recently diagnosed with cancer. Here is a link to the event page – #noahstrong

From Whipple, I traveled through more and more hills and neighborhoods over to Deerfield Park. Deerfield Park was the host baseball field for this past summer’s 11U Little League State Tournament which crowned North Kingstown/Wickford Little League. Deerfield has tons of seating with great views of the field, concession stand, was in immaculate shape. It is just one of the many recreational options at Deerfield Park, which features soccer fields, basketball courts, walking trails, and so much more. An amazing park in Smithfield and an amazing visit to Deerfield Park.

From Deerfield Park, I traveled through Greenville, down Route 5, past beautiful farms hosting apple picking days, took a right at the Johnston Library entrance, and down to Johnston Memorial Park, home of Johnston Little League. I parked my bike at Kennedy Field, one of several baseball and softball fields located at Memorial Park. Kennedy Field is the Majors Field and up the hill is Engineers Field, where an AAU weekend game was being played (RI Reds vs a MA based team.) Kennedy Field was in fantastic shape and looked like it had recently been worked on. Memorial Park was busy with kids playing in the playground, fans watching baseball, walkers and joggers using the walking/jogging path, and families out enjoying a beautiful fall day in Johnston. Great way to finish up Day 8 of my Rhode Island Baseball Field Bike Relay Ride, watching a few innings of youth baseball here in Rhode Island.

It was a challenging 15 to 18 miles of roads from Cumberland into Lincoln then over to Smithfield and finishing in Johnston. I got a great workout, saw some fantastic parks, and really enjoyed Day 8 of my tour of Rhode Island baseball fields. Next stop will be John Chaffee Complex in Cranston, home of Cranston Western Little League and CLCF Baseball.

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