125-acre Freedom Park is dedicated

October 12, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

State and county officials congratulated one another and took cues from the script of "Field of Dreams" as they dedicated Freedom Park yesterday.

"This is so much more than land," County Commissioner Donald I. Dell told a crowd of about 100 people who gathered at the 125-acre park near Sykesville.

"This is the spirit of emerging dreams, and your players are coming."

State Del. Richard N. Dixon, a Carroll Democrat who initiated the project in 1989, said that the first time he saw the property along Raincliffe Road, he couldn't imagine playing fields.

"It had steep slopes and it was horrible, but I said, 'we'll take it,' " he said. "The county commissioners stepped forward with funds and picked up the ball."

The county has signed a 50-year lease with the state -- at $1 a year -- for Freedom Park, which was constructed with $1.45 million in county and state money.

County Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said that he could see youngsters emerging from the corn rows for the games of their lives.

For the Sykesville Baseball League, the park's six new diamonds are a dream come true.

Two additional multipurpose fields will serve soccer, football and lacrosse players.

"With fields, we can handle any number of kids," said Wayne Hollenbaugh, league official. "Without fields, we are lost."

Next spring, more than 1,000 South Carroll children will take to the fields at Freedom Park and Obrecht Road to play ball.

Gregory Fraser, at 8 a veteran of one season, plans to be among them again. Wearing his baseball cap, Gregory proudly displayed his newest possession, a baseball autographed by Baltimore Orioles coach Elrod Hendricks, the guest speaker and a popular celebrity at the festivities yesterday.

"I am going to save this one with my game ball," said Gregory.

Last season, James Marc Rickels, Gregory's first coach, gave him the game ball in honor of a "special catch."

Mr. Rickels was killed June 15 by lightning shortly after a game was called off at the Obrecht Road fields. Field One was dedicated to Mr. Rickels yesterday.

"People will remember my coach," said Gregory.

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