Day 9 of my Rhode Island Baseball Field Bike Relay Ride featured the longest distance to date. Almost 30 miles of exploring Rhode Island through communities, into and out of neighborhoods, onto bike paths, and visiting baseball fields. It was a very rewarding day of connecting the Rhode Island baseball community and here is how it went down…
I was able to bike from my home base in North Kingstown, through East Greenwich, into Warwick, onto the Washington Secondary Bike Path, up the hills of Western Cranston, and finally arrive at the John Chaffee Recreational Complex. This complex, located on Hope Rd in Cranston, is a massive athletic facility which features baseball and softball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, walking paths, and the Jaxon Marocco Memorial Playground. It is also the home of Cranston Western Little League’s Varrato Field, where I started Day 9 of my Rhode Island Baseball Field Bike Relay Ride. I have visited Varrato Field many times over the past few years for district, state,and regional baseball tournaments. The field, the grounds, the batting cages, the concession stand, the bleachers, the signage – all top notch and always in fantastic condition. The Cranston Western Little League community has a proud tradition of baseball in Cranston and I just love visiting this park and meeting with great volunteers like James Sweeney.
A short walk on the Chafee grounds, with my bike in town, from Varrato Field over to the 50/70 baseball field of CLCF Baseball. I was able to catch Coach Davis and a few youth baseball players working on some defensive drills on Saturday. And, Coach Davis and I spoke about the importance of the 50/70 field and what it offers in the developmental process for youth baseball players. CLCF is part of Rhode Island’s Cal Ripken League of youth baseball teams and is a consistent state and regional tournament participant. CLCF also has a baseball field behind the Cranston YMCA on the corner of Park and Gansett Ave. As I was filming the field, a huge crowd of soccer families walked from their field and I couldn’t help noticing the amazing expanse of the Chaffee complex. It is quite a sight to see in Cranston.
From Chaffee, I biked down the Western Hills of Cranston, back onto the Washington Secondary bike path, through the construction on Park Ave (Thank you Cranston Police for letting me through), left on Peerless, then into the stadium parking lot for Cranston Stadium. Cranston Stadium is the home field for Cranston East High School and also hosts Rhode Island Men’s Senior Baseball League games. I love the stadium style seating, which gives Cranston Stadium a real professional baseball looking feel. Last spring, I was able to catch a HS game there and got some great photos of the stadium. Awesome baseball field in Rhode Island!!!
From Cranston Stadium, I hopped on my bike and rode through Cranston, past legendary Elmwood Sports, through neighborhoods, onto Post Road in Warwick and over to The Pit. The Pit is one of the home baseball fields for Warwick North Little League. Warwick North also has fields on Bend St and Mickey Stevens Complex in Warwick. The Pit is an awesome neighborhood baseball park which features two baseball fields, the Dan Wheeler Batting Cage/Pitching Cage, tons of open space to watch a baseball game, and concession stand. It was the tournament host field for the 2019 Warwick Mayor’s Cup Tournament this past summer. Warwick North has amazing volunteers and a proud tradition of baseball excellence in Rhode Island. And they are very active on the Friendship Tournament circuit, having run several RI based friendship tournaments like the Sally Eddy and Jax Marocco for several years now.
From Warwick North, I followed Post Road up to Park Ave, then through neighborhoods heading to Roger Williams Park Zoo. Along the way, I ran into Carberry Field and took a pause to photograph these fields. According to Mark Cahill, from KPerformance Baseball, Carberry is the former home of Edgewood-South Elmwood Little League. I also found out that Cranston East Little League utilizes these fields as well. Very cool find in Cranston.
After Carberry, I was able to get into Roger Williams Park Zoo and onto their bike path. I took the bike path around the park until I landed at the home fields of Washington Park Cal Ripken. Washington Park has three baseball fields, batting cages, plenty of seating, concession stand, and tons of open space. The fields were in fantastic shape on Saturday when I arrived. Someone had “lined” the field recently and the pitcher’s mounds looked like baseballs. Very cool. Washington Park plays in Rhode Island’s Cal Ripken League of teams and is a consistent top finisher in state tournaments. They have a great fan base and awesome volunteers who strive to make every baseball player have an incredible season. Great tradition of baseball at Washington Park Cal Ripken.
After exiting Roger Williams Park Zoo area, I weaved up and through Cranston, past the entrance to Rhode Island’s famous Twin Oaks Restaurant, down Cottage St and to the home of Cranston East Little League, Speck Field. Speck Field is an awesome baseball complex with two baseball fields, batting cages, tons of open space to watch a game or two, playground area – all in fantastic shape. The City of Cranston always does a nice job keeping their recreational facilities in top condition and Speck Field is a baseball gem in Rhode Island. Cranston East has some incredible volunteers who have a great passion for helping youth baseball players every year. I have gotten to know a few of them in the past few years (Gary, Leo, Amy) who work with youth baseball players year round on and off the fields. It is always a great visit to Speck Field and Cranston East Little League.
A quick ride, less than 1 mile away from Speck, is the home of Elmwood Little League located on Niantic Ave. Elmwood Little League features four baseball and softball fields, huge playground, recreational and picnic areas by Mashapaug Pond, and walking paths. It features incredible murals on the concession stand area with positive messages about sports and community. There were kids playing on the fields and in the playgrounds, laughing and just enjoying a beautiful fall afternoon. The baseball fields looked amazing and were recently groomed and definitely in top playing condition. Great visit to Elmwood Little League.
Another quick ride down Niantic, over to Cranston St and Webster Ave, then onto Killingly St in the Olneyville section of Providence and the home of Olneyville Little League at Silver Lake. This is also the Neutaconkanut Hill Park, which is a gorgeous recreational facility featuring baseball fields, ton of open space for walking, bike path, and an amazing recreation center. Olneyville has tons of inspirational quotes throughout the park and the league works with players and families on promoting a positive attitude and sportsmanship. You can see these quotes on the concession stand, on the batting cage fences, in the dugouts, and on signage throughout the ball field. I love the positive vibes every time I visit this park. And, I was happy to meet super volunteer Richard Hemphill this past summer, who is such a great leader in the Providence community.
30 miles of Rhode Island roads, bike paths, neighborhoods, and busy streets afforded me the opportunity to visit 9 incredible baseball fields. Every field had something special to show me and I am so proud and honored to be able to share them with you. Every league in Rhode Island has put hours and weeks and years into building up their programs, their facilities, their place in the Rhode Island baseball community. I had such a blast Saturday visiting Cranston, Warwick, and Providence on my Rhode Island Baseball Field Bike Relay Ride, Day 9.
Next stop is North Providence Little League.
The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.