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Berwyn Paoli Area Little League

The Story of Field of Dreams

Once upon a time, a Little League was without a home…

Our town center, our village green, is not what it seems. There’s a story to be told. What we know today as Field of Dreams was once a tract of uneven, weed-strewn meadows and wetlands, dotted with shrubs and trees, and strewn with rubbish. That was, until, in late 1980s, when a number of residents dared to dream something magical.  

For a long time, Berwyn Paoli Area Little League—like many leagues—lacked a centralized home. A place where children, families, and neighbors could come together to experience the joys of America’s pastime, the warm bonds of friendship and community, and so much more. To Don Baker, John Marshall, Tom Toscani, and other local visionaries, these unkempt acres on the South Valley wall represented an opportunity to give the Berwyn/Paoli area that home. 

CHASING THE DREAM

The journey from dream to Field of Dreams was nothing short of adventurous. Persuading the landowner—neighboring PECO—to lease the land was no walk in the park. While taking several years, our intrepid dream-team forged ahead, securing the site by 1988. Challenge #2: Tredyffrin Township. Months of lobbying and crafty negotiations eventually earned BPALL a green-light for development. But the going was never easy.

The presence of wetlands on the site further complicated matters, drawing in the likes of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and, with the discovery of an early 19th Century spring house (deep among the marsh reeds), the Chester Country Historical Society. Quite a crowd. Yet persistence, and the subtle influence of some notable community members, eventually delivered the project from planning and approvals to shovels and sweat.

BUILD IT & THEY WILL COME

On a cool Saturday morning in autumn 1992, 12 local volunteers began the daunting task of clearing and leveling the site. Uprooting trees and bushes. Hauling rocks and trash. Bulldozing smooth the sloped land. Spec’ing the fields. A colossal task by all measures.

Then, as if on cue, the magic unfolded. On the second morning of work, 12 volunteers had grown to 20. By the next weekend, 20 grew to 40. And by the third weekend, their ranks had swelled to more than 100, as friends, neighbors, children and Howellville Road passersby stopped to investigate the curious scene; then stayed to do their part. 


Work progressed deep into the winter months. Hot chocolate and donuts provided the warmth and calories. The excitement of being part of something special, the motivation. Events such as Buck for a Bucket day delighted the children, who collected rocks with the promise of vast riches. Local contractors, such as Marty and Michael Cappelletti and Art DeSolis, threw their ball-caps into the ring, donating time and heavy equipment. 

By mid-spring, fencing, parking lots, infield clay and outfield sod were in place. Lacking water supply at this stage, volunteers spent evenings moving sprinklers across moon-lit fields with water generously drawn from the spigots of the neighboring church. Mudslides, heat-waves—nothing would keep the community from their adopted task.

DOLLARS & CENTS

Transforming a dozen acres of wilderness into playing fields doesn’t come cheap. From the very beginning and through the current day, the Berwyn/Paoli area community has matched its generosity of time with generosity of giving. At the outset and throughout the years, countless galas, silent auctions and community events have been hosted by champions of the cause, generating more than $2 million to build, maintain, and grow the dream. Not a dollar was ever drawn from any government agency. 

PLAY BALL!!!

With more than 350 residents in attendance on June 30, 1993, the Phillie Phanatic fired home the ceremonial first-pitch to open Field of Dreams with its first ever ballgame. A pair of Challenger Division teams entertained the festive crowd until night-fall. After more than five years, the dream had become reality and, through it, a local Little League had found its home. 

Since that day, Field of Dreams has grown—adding fields, dugouts, press boxes, batting cages, concession stands and more. Maintenance and improvements are the ongoing charge of volunteers, spearheaded by your friends and neighbors. And on any given day, you’ll find a mother and daughter enjoying a catch. An uncle and his nephew, working through a bucket of balls in the cages. And a volunteer, whose children have long since left for college, making repairs to an infield fence. Community as it was meant to be.

If this timeless gathering place inspires you as much as it does us, throw your own ball-cap into the ring and volunteer a little of your time. Become a steward of a magical tradition. And show your children what it means to invest in community.













CLEVER MOTTOS OF OUR DREAM TEAM

There is no limit as to what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.

We took a community eyesore and made it into a community landmark.

Why do it right when you can do it twice.

COMPLETE PHOTO GALLERY

For more photos of the Field of Dreams story, please visit the following:
Field of Dreams Photo Gallery - FLICKR

Berwyn Paoli Area Little League

PO Box 473 
Paoli, Pennsylvania 19301
Email : [email protected]
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