Bangor’s Mansfield Stadium is one of the state’s crown jewels of baseball. Through the generosity of Bangor residents and famed authors, Stephen and Tabitha King, the ballpark was built for $1.2 million dollars in 1992. Bangor and the surrounding communities have benefitted immensely from their philanthropy over the years, much of which goes unrecognized. That’s precisely how they would like it. You will never see some grandiose edifice erected in their likenesses.
Twenty-two years after the first game was played, a game Stephen King coached in by the way, Mansfield Stadium still is as immaculate, even more so, than when it first opened in June 1992. While the Kings’ generosity should never be taken for granted, stadiums, fields, and other structures must be maintained in order to remain in pristine condition. As important as the Kings’ contribution was, equally as significant is the selflessness of many, who give of their time and talents to make Mansfield Stadium what it is today. Many people play different roles but all are equally important.
Field Director, Ron St. Pierre has been in that capacity since the stadium’s opening. If it’s green or it’s dirt, he’s in charge of it. The retired Bangor educator and coach treats the field with the care of a parent holding a newborn baby. Ron’s a very humble man but he beams with pride when others recognize the hard work he and his crew put in.
St. Pierre has also built a great rapport over the years with visitors to the ballpark. One such fan is Richard McQuesten, formerly of Charleston, who now resides in Colcord, Oklahoma. Known affectionately as “Splash”, McQuesten is a regular at the Senior World Series, and attended many years with his granddaughter, Samantha. As years went by, Sam a former softball player at Foxcroft Academy, became an honorary member of the grounds crew during World Series week. According to McQuesten, Sam practically grew up at Mansfield Stadium.
Tragedy struck on March 5th, 2012 when Samantha lost her life in an automobile accident at the age of 20. Right there was Ron St. Pierre in Richard’s time of grief. That spring he had hats made up to give to McQuesten, as well as the stadium staff, which had a black top, red visor, the stadium’s logo on the front, as well as Sam’s number 14 on the side. A black pennant flew from the top of the grandstand for the entire season. During the 2012 Senior League World Series, a memorial brick was unveiled in remembrance of Sam. That’s just the kind of person Ron St. Pierre is, also thinking of ways to remember others. Ron also served at manager for the 2010 Bangor Senior League World Series team which reached the world championship game.
Working alongside St. Pierre is retired Bangor police officer Jim Owens. Owens has always been a fixture at the stadium and has ramped up his service even more upon his retirement. Jim Owens is the first contact most boys have had at the big stadium as he also has served many years as Bangor’s Junior League coach, along with Maine Baseball Hall of Famer Dennis Libbey. Owens always has a great story to share, often involving his days playing baseball or basketball at Brownville Junction High School for the late Carroll Conley, Sr.
Owens often arrives at the ballpark early each day, getting the field ready for the day’s event, either a game or practice. Consider for a moment, hardly a day goes by from early April to mid-August when there isn’t something going on at the stadium. A tip of the hat is definitely deserved for the grounds crew.
A number of upgrades have been made to Mansfield Stadium over the past twenty- two seasons. New fencing has been installed, a brick-way has been erected, upgrades to the concession area have been done. In addition, the sound system was upgraded with new speakers, new railings have been installed, and a press box with put in place just in time for the first Senior League World Series in 2002. Other equipment is purchased in order to keep the field in tip-top shape. A number of these ventures have come under the auspices of David Mansfield, the stadium director.
The stadium holds a personal meaning for Mansfield as it is named for his son, Shawn Trevor Mansfield. Shawn died at the age of thirteen, living a life with cerebral palsy. The ballpark is dedicated to him and all of the other kids who never had the chance to play baseball.
David is in charge of the staff who are not directly involved with the field. Those people would include concession workers, ticket takers for events, press box workers, etc. Any equipment or upgrades the stadium is able to obtain come from revenues generated through concessions or gate receipts from tournaments.
Speaking of tournaments, Mansfield Stadium is home to Bangor High School, Bangor American Legion Baseball, MPA regional and state championship games, as well as other high school games throughout the season. The stadium, however, was primarily built for Little League Baseball’s older circuits, Junior League for 13-14 year-olds, and Senior League for 15-16 year-old players. In 2002, Mansfield Stadium was selected to host the Senior League World Series, which it has hosted since. Directing those tournaments for many years has been Mike Brooker.
Brooker has been involved in Little League in a number of capacities from coach, to tournament director. With Brooker in charge, no stone goes unturned. Everything from the district tournaments to the World Series goes off without a hitch under his leadership. In fact, he probably has the most down time during the actual World Series itself as so many hours goes into the preparation.
Assisting Brooker for many years as a tournament director was the late Dan Clifford. Clifford loved kids and always could be seen with a smile on his face. Dan would do anything asked of him, nothing was too big or too beneath him. He had the ultimate servant’s heart. Clifford, who passed away in 2007, has a pathway dedicated to him called Danny’s Way across the street from Mansfield Stadium at the Little League field. Danny’s Way was to play hard, play fair, and to have fun. The Senior League World Series Sportsmanship Award is given annually to the team that best exemplifies playing “Danny’s Way.”
Countless others have also given of themselves over the past twenty-two years to make Mansfield Stadium what it is today. People like retired Bangor High School math teacher John Stubbs, retired Maine State Police trooper Phil Pushard, Skip Black, Dick Smith, and others pick up a rake and help out, especially as the World Series approaches. Current Brewer High School Athletic Administrator, David Utterback, cut his proverbial teeth at the stadium. While working the grounds crews, Utterback was a coach for the Bangor team in the first World Series.
When you stop by Mansfield Stadium and see these individuals, be sure to let them know their work is appreciated. They don’t do it for a pat on the back but I know it would mean a lot. Theirs is a shining example for future generations on giving back to a game that has given so much to them.