Tuesday May 21, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro Area Men’s Softball league has a new place to call home ... and play ball.

West River Park, located on route 30, officially opened its gates on Saturday to welcome the public to a day full of food, festivities, and softball.

Before the ribbon-cutting, a special ceremony took place at the newly-built softball field. The Brattleboro Area Softball Association and town named the field Brownlow Towle Field, in honor of Brownlow "Brownie" Towle, a league player, board member, and umpire, who has been involved in all aspects of the organization for over 40 years.

The surrounding facilities had been open to various area athletic programs, including many Rec & Parks events, leading up to Saturday’s event.

Before Towle was honored, he and a group of softball league players gathered in front of the field early in the afternoon to play a "Legends" game, that welcomed past players and their families.

"League members have been waiting years for this," said Towle, 72.

Over the years, Towle said money accumulated from players’ fees and fundraisers had been set aside to go towards the development of the park.

While there wasn’t a huge player turnout for the "Legends" game, there were plenty of fans and friends on hand to watch Towle and crew take their first swings at the plate.

"I’ve been involved for 25 years," said Wolfgang Wagner, who started out playing for Mike’s Restaurant (now Kipling’s Restaurant and Pub), Vermont Pizza, and Perfect Image, before settling in with the Frankie’s Pizza / McNeil’s Brewery team. "The Mike’s Restaurant team was my venture," he said. "They sponsored us for about eight years."

Tossing out the first pitches during the "Legends" game was Jerry Irish.

"I’ve been playing in town since 1977," said Irish, who has played with Wagner on the Frankie’s / McNeil’s team. "Brattleboro Retreat first sponsored our team. There’s been many through the years."

The league season continues through August 1.