Dedication of New Baseball Diamond at Tuck Field in Memory of Don Butler
By Nancy Rineman, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, May 10, 2000
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
Atlantic News Photo by Nancy Rineman
HAMPTON -- The skies opened up Saturday morning at Tuck Field's Field Number One, as did the hearts of about 150 friends of Don Butler, who gathered to honor the memory of the champion of youth sports.
Speaking before a sea of open umbrellas, Keith Mahler braved his own waves of emotion as he praised Butler's 15 years of commitment to the children involved in HYA sports before his death last September.
"Don worked tirelessly," Mahler said, describing Butler as a role model who served in many capacities, including president of the Hampton Youth Association as well as its basketball commissioner. Mahler said Butler was involved with all aspects of the program, from registrations to equipment to rating clinics, as well as responding to questions of parents and children, much of which tied up weekend after weekend. Butler was part of the driving force behind water and electricity being brought to Tuck Field, and played a major role in the building of the concession stand, Mahler recalled.
"[He] did all of this for so long," Mahler said, referring then to HYA President Bill Morrissey's words that Don Butler was "HYA's Cal Ripken and true Iron Man."
"He cared for all children and all teams," Mahler continued, adding that Butler applauded good plays by children on both teams, be it one he coached or the opponent. Registrations were always well publicized to give all area youth a chance to participate, Mahler said.
Mahler said Butler practiced the philosophy that "you don't have to hit a home run to be a hero."
"By naming this field [in Don Butler's honor], we hope his influence will be even greater," Mahler said.
The family of Don Butler was presented a plaque in his honor, with Butler's wife, Heidi, thanking the community.
"The whole Butler family is honored," Heidi Butler said.
Members of the Winnacunnet High School Junior ROTC program raised the American Flag in Butler's honor, as Patricia Liddy, music instructor for Hampton Academy Junior High, sang the National Anthem.
Then it was time to "play ball," as Butler's oldest son, Jonathan, threw out the first ball for opening day.
Morrissey described the morning's events as a "great ceremony." "This is a small payback for what Don did," Morrissey said. "Everybody demanded this."
Hampton Selectman Brian Warburton spoke of the "good team effort" between the Hampton Parks and Recreation Department coupled with Butler's passion for youth sports which resulted in getting the best programs for area youth.
Following the ceremony, Heidi Butler said the change in the day's weather at the time of the ceremony left her with an immediate impression.
"I guess he thought the fields needed watering," she said with a proud smile. Heidi said her husband was "very, very involved" with community sports.
"He loved it," Heidi said. "When he retired he would have still done it. It gave him an opportunity to know a lot of people and be involved."