Bucksport’s Cam Grindle fields the throw as an Old Town player steals second base during a preseason high school baseball game April 13 in Bucksport. The two teams faced one another as part of the “For the Love of the Game” Andy Wentworth Play Day, which drew teams from Bucksport, Old Town, Calais, Houlton, Mattanawcook Academy, Stearns, Sumner and Washington Academy. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Bucksport honors former baseball standout with “For the Love of the Game” play day



BUCKSPORT — For Andy Wentworth, there’s no limit to how far the Bucksport High School community will go.

For the most part, preseason baseball and softball games have been unable to go on this year during a spring season characterized by cold weather, more snow and wet fields. As a result, schools have been forced to make cancellation after cancellation in what’s been a virtually nonexistent exhibition slate in early April.

Yet at Bucksport, which has honored Wentworth for three years with an annual preseason play day, the idea of not playing Saturday afternoon was never an option. Baseball was the former Bucksport standout’s biggest passion, and the purple-and-gold faithful had a will, they had a way.

Baseball and softball teams from throughout the state traveled to Bucksport on Saturday to participate in the “For the Love of the Game” Andy Wentworth Preseason Baseball Play Day. The event raised money for the Andy Wentworth Scholarship Fund and provided squads with last-chance tune-up opportunities in advance of the upcoming regular season.

Wentworth, who was born in Blue Hill and lived in Verona Island, was a member of the Golden Bucks’ Eastern Maine championship-winning team as a senior. He died of an illness in August 2015 at the age of 30.

“Andy loved many things, but his biggest passion was baseball,” Bucksport public address announcer Steve Hathaway said over the loudspeakers during the opening ceremonies. “He played for the love of the game, and that’s what today is about.”

Sumner’s Brena Patten fields a ground ball during a preseason high school softball game against Houlton. Games at the “For the Love of the Game” Andy Wentworth Play Day were limited to one hour. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY LETITIA BALDWIN

In the week leading up to Saturday afternoon, Bucksport baseball and softball players, fans and coaches got to work shoveling snow, drying dirt and grass and doing whatever else necessary to ready the fields for action after a long winter. With inclement weather in the forecast, the start of the tournament was moved from 9 a.m. to noon.

 

To give every team an opportunity to play at least one game, matchups were limited to one hour or four innings, whichever came first. Old Town, Calais, Houlton, Mattanawcook Academy, Stearns, Sumner and Washington Academy joined the host team on the diamonds.

Even with the fog as thick as could be, the chance to be outside at all was a welcome one for players and coaches. Fans were just as eager, lining the cagelink fences at the fields a mile apart to watch their teams for the first times this season.

“It’s for the love of the game,” said Stormi Wentworth, Andy’s mother. “It took a lot of hard work, but it’s all worth it.”

Regular season play set to begin

The Hancock County baseball and softball regular seasons will begin Wednesday, April 17, when Sumner faces Narraguagus at 1 p.m. in Harrington.

The road to the playoffs begins for four other schools Thursday, April 18, with Bucksport hosting Mount Desert Island at 4 p.m. and Ellsworth taking on George Stevens Academy at 4:30 p.m. in Blue Hill. Deer Isle-Stonington will open play at 1 p.m. Friday, April 19, when it takes on Penobscot Valley in Howland.

The Ellsworth American will have game results and recaps as well as its seasonal photo preview package in the April 25 edition.

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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