MERIDEN – The Connecticut American Legion Baseball Committee accepted a Meriden Post 45 bid Sunday night to host the annual Senior State Tournament championship games at Ceppa Field.
The tournament’s latter stages will run July 27 through August 3. The bid was submitted by Post 45 manager Doug Wedge. The tournament has shifted between Palmer Field in Middletown, Muzzy Field in Bristol and Rotary Field in South Windsor in the recent past.
“I was asked by [Zone 3 chairman Jeff Clarke] if we were interested in bidding because Middletown wasn’t going to bid,” Wedge said Monday. “[The Post 45 board] decided to submit a bid, so we put together a scenario with Ceppa Field. We made a pitch and it went through the state Legion.”
State chairman Dave Greenleaf confirmed the selection.
“The other option was Hamden,” Greenleaf said. “They have a press box, but no bathrooms, parking or concessions and no tournament experience. Those were our only two bids.”
While Ceppa no longer has a press, box, Wedge said the concession stand can be upgraded, bleachers can be brought in and the lot offers adequate parking. He said the media will be accommodated through the use of tents that ring the backstop.
Wedge said city officials have provided incentive by contributing their respective resources.
“City councilor Bob Williams is the new commander of the Legion. I saw him yesterday because we had winter hitting sign-ups. He’s arranging a meeting with the city manager [Guy Scaife] and the Parks and Recreation director [Chris Bourdon],” Wedge said. “I think 90 percent of what we need is there.”
From a baseball standpoint, Post 45 will get an automatic bid into the state tournament as the team from the host city.
“You want to earn your way in and I’m very optimistic about the team,” Wedge said. “I think we’ll be good.”
The state board considered that Ceppa Field successfully hosted two consecutive Junior Tournaments. Wedge said running Meriden Youth Travel Baseball tournaments spread over four city sites about a decade ago also accentuated the experience factor.
“We’re familiar with Legion protocol,” Wedge said. “For 10 years we ran the Grand Slam Tournament and it ran like clockwork. We’re used to accommodating everybody and that helped in our getting the bid.”
Wedge said Legion Field can be used as a backup. Wedge, Ed DiPersio and others associated with Post 45 worked this fall to rebuild the pitcher’s mound, replace sod and redefine the basepaths.
The state board was concerned that no batting cages are available at Ceppa, and while Legion Field has one nearby, Wedge said funds are available to purchase a portable unit.
The Hamden Legion proposed the use of the high school field, with refurbished Rochford Field near the New Haven border as a backup.
“We have the equipment and material to maintain [Ceppa Field],” Wedge said. “We’ll talk to Parks and Recreation about access to machinery to make sure the field is in mint condition. The field in Hamden is turf and that wasn’t acceptable.”