PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The baseball field at Clapp Park is being named after former coach George "Buddy" Pellerin.
The Parks Commission approved the naming on Tuesday after being overwhelmed by support from former players, family and friends of Pellerin. A large crowd filled the meeting room as Ken Ferris gave a presentation on not just why Pellerin deserved the recognition but also plans to upgrade the field.
"Buddy Pellerin was much more than a coach. You did well on the field but he was much more interested in what you did off the field," Ferris said.
Pellerin was head coach of the Pittsfield High baseball team for 19 years, leading the team to the state title in 1966 and taking the team to the 1974 title game. He also served as athletic director, and head softball coach during his time at PHS.
He handed over the reins of the baseball team in 1982 but remained active in the sport. He went on to coach softball at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and St. Joseph's High as well as the city's Babe Ruth league all-star team. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1988.
"The program itself just turned out successful people and that is the measure of the man," Ferris said.
Ferris said there are "hundreds of stories" of Pellerin inspiring and keeping players on track in their lives.
But Ferris said coach would be "disappointed" in those pushing for the change, and with those who penned the large stack of letters of support submitted to the commission, if the project stopped at just naming the field.
Ferris said so far the committee heading the effort has raised $15,000 and is looking to raise more for a number of improvements to the park. That includes a score board, fencing, signage, and ultimately dugouts, lighting, bleachers, and monuments.
"The vision and the goal maybe lofty by our coach always taught us to, in a controlled way, swing for the fences," Ferris said.
The effort has only just begun, and with a groundswell of support. The plan was hatched at the 50th anniversary reunion of the 1966 championship team. In just a few months since then, a small committee crafted the plan and began to raise money.
"The amount of people he knows is incredible," Ferris said. "It's been very easy."
The Parks Commission was unanimous in its support and opted to forego a public hearing to name the field, an option the commission reserved in its policies. The naming is only of the baseball field — Clapp Park as a whole will retain its name.
The commission also voted to have Ferris and others begin working with city staff on the improvement plans, but the commission still wants to vote on each project.
"We certainly want to make sure we get this done right," Parks and Open Space Manager James McGrath said of the individual improvement projects.
Ferris said the priorities would be to install a score board and fencing. From there, future projects will depend on the fundraising effort — one of which could include sponsorship of signs on the outfield fence.
"It's not just because he's a great coach. It's because he is a great person," he said.
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By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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