ORLEANS – One of the crown jewels of the Lower Cape will now shine even brighter.
On Monday, Orleans Firebirds president Bob O’Donnell presented Orleans Select Board Chair Kevin Galligan and Department of Public Works Facilities Manager Ron Collins with a $40,000 check to offset the town’s costs to fully recondition the lights at Eldredge Park, the Cape Cod Baseball League’s oldest field.
The Firebirds’ board members, dedicated fans and bat boys who attended the morning ceremony on the outfield grass were treated with early-spring-like baseball weather as the team and town marked the end of the 2020 Eldredge Park Lighting Project, which began shortly after the 2019 season.
“It’s been a fun project,” said O’Donnell. “This has been a great partnership between the team and the town.
O’Donnell credited the team’s general manager, Sue Horton, for being the first to notice that several light bulbs were out when she made a preseason assessment of the field’s eight light towers ahead of the 2019 CCBL season. The Firebirds were hopeful it would be an easy fix to replace the expired bulbs, but the project turned out to be much more complicated
“When they started looking at some of the bulbs, we’d say a bulb was out and they’d come back and say, ‘It’s not the bulb – it’s the harness, it’s the fuse, it’s the wiring,’” O’Donnell said.
After considering various options — including a conversion to LED lights — the organizations determined a reconditioning of all 59 light bulbs would be the most cost-effective solution. O’Donnell said the reconditioned bulbs generally last for a decade, which will provide a long-term answer for lighting at Eldredge Park, which opened in 1913 and installed lights in 1979.
Sparks Electric, in collaboration with Yarmouth-based Baxter Crane and United Rentals, executed their contract with the town and completed the project at the end of November. Collins oversaw the day-to-day operations and provided oversight and management each step of the way.
Among his duties was making sure the ospreys on the left field light towers had migrated south for the winter before work resumed.
“Ron was outstanding,” Galligan said. “This couldn’t have happened without him.”
Eldredge Park is also used by Nauset Regional High School, adult leagues, American Legion baseball and middle school events in addition to Cape League games. O’Donnell said the $40,000 donation comes from monies the Firebirds have saved over the years and noted that the club is committed to improving player and fan safety for all teams using Eldredge Park.
The club president also didn’t hesitate when asked about the 2021 season. O’Donnell expects the Firebirds to play in the summer.
“We’re playing baseball until somebody tells us otherwise,” he said. “We’re going to do all the planning and prepare as if there will be a season.”
“We need to think that way,” added Galligan. “We have to be optimistic that we’ll be having ball games and Fourth of July parades and celebrations in the summer. If the doctors and scientists say we can’t, we can always scale back those plans. But we still need to prepare.”
Although there are still questions to be answered about how the 2021 Cape League season will look, the completion of the 2020 Eldredge Park Lighting Project guarantees Orleans’s signature diamond will shine brightly for years to come.