WATERVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Imagine getting the chance to play at famous major league baseball stadiums - as a kid.
Thanks to a major league community effort and some donations from the MLB, kids in Waterville are about to get to do just that.
Oakland's "Mini Fenway Park" replica is getting a sister stadium down the road - a Wrigley Field Replica in Waterville.
Fran Purnell and the four generations in his family grew up on the baseball field he built in Waterville, “Lot of life and a lot of years - and that's what make them good role models not only to us but to the community,” said his grandson, Kevin.
Which is why it was tough to watch 48 years of family and community history be torn down.
“I don't know how to explain it,” said Fran’s son, Kevin Purnell. “It was hard at first, but looking at it today and seeing the development of it makes it a really proud day. It was hard to see the old taken down.”
The Purnell family just can't give up their baseball field. They are now heavily involved in the final steps of creating the Purnell Wrigley Field, a replica of the original Chicago stadium, named after Fran.
Mini-Wrigley, as well as Mini-Fenway just down the road in Oakland, are the only replica fields of their kind in the country.
“If I lived in a different state and I had a lot a lot a lot of money, I would totally say ‘Mom we are going to Maine because I want to live near the baseball fields,’” said 9-year-old Cheyanne Chapa.
Now, what was an old staple in the community will become a new one. The Wrigley replica is on its way to being complete, and will welcome kids to play in May.
At the dedication ceremony, the field was introduced with a celebrity guest - former Red Sox and Cubs pitcher Lee Smith.
He sees great potential in giving kids a major league field in a small-town setting.
“The kids now are into the video games, and things like that,” Smith said. “To get them out of the house, get them to be a part of this, get them some exercise.”
The kids who visited for the groundbreaking today say that if they had their choice between video games or mini Wrigley...they would choose to run around the field.
“I think this is going to be the starting point. And I think you're going to see a lot of this pop up all over the country,” added Smith.
The new Wrigley is made of turf - even making it handicap accessible, so all kids are welcome to play.
While the field has been laid, there are still plans for concessions stands, bathrooms, and a full sized scoreboard.
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