Since the days when the voices of Earl Gillespie and Blaine Walsh crackled from transistor radios during Milwaukee Braves broadcasts, Pete Maurice lived for baseball.
The exploits of Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn and so many others would transport this kid to his own enchanted land under the warmth of his blankets.
“There was always a little boy in Pete,” said Maurice’s widow, Peggy. “When he was younger, he would have a transistor radio and listen to Braves games under the covers and write down stats. I think that was a part of him forever.”
Maurice went on to play third base at Union Grove High School, where he graduated in 1970. And then he went on to devote his life to promoting baseball, softball and other youth sports in the Union Grove area.
When one thought of Pete Maurice in the community, one thought of kids and a gentle soul who truly cared about them.
“He always was interested in developing programs or being part of the community for kids,” said Peggy, who graduated a year behind Pete at Union Grove. “Every spring when it was time to play baseball again, you could just feel that little boy in him. It was like, ‘Put me in, Coach!’ “
“He was at the Field of Dreams in Iowa at least four times and, the last time, he actually got to bat.”
Maurice died of a heart attack at the age of 65 Dec. 23, 2016, after more than 42 years of marriage to Peggy. He left behind three children, 12 grandchildren and a legacy that will be celebrated indefinitely because of the a devoted community which considered this man to be someone special.
The official dedication of Pete Maurice Field in Union Grove, which is intended for eight baseball teams and eight softball teams in the Bronco Select Program, will be at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The first game at the field, located at 1745 Milldrum St., will be played Monday when the U11 baseball teams from Union Grove and Waterford play at 5:45 p.m.
The idea for this field, which will be used mostly by players in the Union Grove district, was conceived around last Labor Day. Bronco Select was growing and there was a limited supply of fields in the Union Grove community to accommodate all the teams.
Why not try to make something happen while honoring a local legend at the same time?
“Something had to give,” Matt Peterson, a board member and treasurer for Bronco Select said about the field shortage.
Peterson gained the approval of Union Grove Elementary School, since the proposed field would be on its property. Fund-raising efforts were initiated which, to date, total $18,500 in an advertising signage campaign, $12,500 from inscribed bricks in the “Pavers For Pete” campaign and donations of $10,000 each from VFW Kansasville and the Bronco Select.
Maurice would no doubt be proud to have his name on this facility, which has been a first-class effort. The features of this field include:
- A 200-foot outfield fence with black vinyl fencing throughout the venue.
- Two block 10x40-foot dugouts with metal roofing.
- Two 55-foot enclosed bullpens.
- Custom foul poles of 16 feet each.
- Three 20-foot flag poles.
- Forty two arbor vitaes that will create a tree line beyond the outfield fence.
- And eight-foot wireless LED scoreboard with custom signage.
Pete Maurice Field will also be adaptable with three different base lengths and five different pitching distances. And work will continue this fall, when two 60-foot batting cages are installed.
The bottom line is this sparkling new venue is going to be a happening place this summer, with 49 games already scheduled.
And making this project all the sweeter is the man who inspired it all along.
“If I had to pick one guy who had an impact on the youth level, it would be him,” Peterson said of Maurice. “Honest to God, there would not be another person who would even remotely come close to a guy like him.
“That’s why, when we started thinking about this diamond, it didn’t take but a half a second to figure out that we need to do this diamond in memory of him. Baseball was his life and there’s nothing more that he would love to see than kids enjoying a diamond with his name.”
There will be a heavy Maurice flavor at the dedication ceremony Sunday, when Peggy will be joined by daughters Kathy and Becca, son Daniel and her 12 grandchildren.
“He was so community minded,” Peggy said. “Just knowing there is another diamond for the kids to play on I think is pretty exciting. We know that we’ll have nieces and nephews and grandchildren who play on that field.
“It’s beautiful. It’s truly beautiful.”
One can’t help but think that around 5:45 p.m. Monday, when the first game at Pete Maurice Field is scheduled to start, there will be an enthusiastic voice from the heavens bellowing, “Play ball!”