Editor’s word: This story was initially revealed in Might 2019.
It’s no secret that Stephen King lives and breathes baseball. He’s a lifelong Crimson Sox fan, and he isn’t shy about sharing his opinion on the crew. He used to personal a sports activities speak radio station. He and novelist Stewart O’Nan even wrote a guide, “Devoted,” concerning the Crimson Sox’s 2004 World Sequence-winning season.
However nothing sums up Bangor’s most well-known resident’s love of the sport higher than the methods by which he and his spouse, Tabitha, have supported it regionally. One want solely have a look at Shawn T. Mansfield Stadium, the top-notch baseball facility that the Kings donated $1.2 million to have constructed, which opened in 1992 at Hayford Park on Thirteenth Avenue.
Bangor West Little League with Bangor East contains greater than 20 baseball and softball groups in Bangor for gamers ages 5 to 16.
In 2019, Dave Mansfield, who for many years coached Little League for Bangor West, and for 2 years in 1989 and 1990, coached alongside Stephen King, whereas his son, Owen, performed, helped kick of Bangor’s Little League season.
“There was all the time a little bit of a mystique round it being Stephen, certain, however as soon as they obtained to know him, he was simply one other of the coaches,” mentioned Mansfield, now in his late 70s, who’s president of the board of administrators for Mansfield Stadium. “I do know it was a terrific expertise for the youngsters, however I believe it was simply as essential for him.”
Mansfield didn’t deal with his well-known fellow coach any in another way from anybody else. He had to assist with services upkeep similar to the remainder of them.
“We needed to present him what to do. He certain can write books, however he didn’t know a lot about area upkeep,” mentioned Mansfield, chuckling on the reminiscence.
It was Mansfield and King who 30 years in the past hatched the plan to construct Bangor a world-class baseball facility to NCAA specs, whereas the 2 had been serving to center schoolers run drills and observe fielding.
On the time, Bangor’s ball fields left loads to be desired. Gear was previous, seating was cramped and all the pieces was simply usually run down. When the Bangor West Little League crew superior to the regionals in 1989, it turned clear that substandard services had been hampering the flexibility of these gamers — together with Owen King — to advance within the sport as they reached highschool.
“It was one thing so simple as, ‘Boy, we actually may use a greater facility. We’ve obtained to do one thing about it,’” Mansfield mentioned. “A yr later, he introduced the thought of a brand new ballfield to town. And in 1992, it opened.”
Along with internet hosting Senior League video games, regional and state championship video games, and Bangor and John Bapst highschool baseball groups, Mansfield hosted the Senior League World Sequence between 2002 and 2016. After a two-year absence, Bangor this yr will host the jap regionals for the Senior League World Sequence, which is able to carry groups from as distant as Maryland north to Bangor to vie for a spot within the finals, now held in South Carolina.
Although youth baseball usually faces stiff competitors from the rising recognition of sports activities similar to soccer and lacrosse, in accordance with Bangor West advertising director Sarah Smiley, 32 new gamers joined the league in 2019, representing a 16 % improve from 2018.
“We requested a bunch of our former gamers what they liked about enjoying Little League, and the overwhelming response was that they liked the group environment,” mentioned Smiley, whose three sons have all performed Little League. “You’ll be able to come hang around right here with out your mother and father. You’ll be able to journey your bike or stroll right here. Different sports activities don’t supply that sort of vibe. There’s an actual social side to it. I believe that’s what particular about baseball in Bangor.”
On the area that King constructed — or the “area of screams,” because it’s informally identified — Mansfield and fellow former coach Ron St. Pierre stay answerable for normal upkeep.
Mansfield and King are associates to today, and Mansfield is a bit tight-lipped in the case of the main points of their friendship — the Kings are non-public individuals, and there’s an unstated rule amongst most Bangor residents that after they’re on the town, you permit Steve and Tabby alone.
They’re additionally not ones to crow about their generosity. Although their contributions to the group are effectively documented, their names aren’t on many issues. The ballfield is called for Dave Mansfield’s son, Shawn, who died at age 14 from issues as a consequence of cerebral palsy. The adjoining Beth Pancoe Aquatic Complicated is called for a Bangor Excessive College pupil who died from leukemia.
That mentioned, it might probably’t be a coincidence that when the Kings are dwelling in Bangor, they will merely look out their again window on the ballfield within the yard of their iconic West Broadway home and watch the subsequent technology of baseball gamers discover ways to grasp the nationwide pastime.
“I believe there’s an entire new technology of children that don’t know the historical past of this facility and the truth that the Kings constructed it,” Smiley mentioned. “Not solely is it cool for them to know that the man that wrote ‘It’ constructed the sector, however it’s additionally sort of their present that retains on giving. It’s protecting the custom alive.”
Watch: ‘I can nonetheless carry it when I’ve to,” Stephen King says as he compares his writing profession to baseball