Baseball is America’s pastime.
The ping of the metal bat and crack of the glove are welcome summer sounds across Billerica.
There is nothing quite like a summer night game under the bright lights.
Unfortunately, for some time, the lights have been a bit dimmer at Pollard Field in Billerica.
Considered the town’s signature Little League field, Pollard Field’s lights had grown old with age and shone dimmer on the well-used diamond.
With an already tight budget and a potentially high cost of replacing the lights, things looked bleak for Billerica Little League.
That’s where the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 stepped in.
IBEW Local 103 is the largest construction union in New England, with over 68,000 members, including a number of Billerica residents.
Rich Antonellis, IBEW Local 103 business agent and Billerica-resident, said it was an easy decision after he received a call describing the situation with the Pollard Field lights.
“This one is about the kids, so it was really a no-brainer,” he said.
Antonellis enlisted the help of a local engineer and contractor Fischbach & Moore to solve the lighting issue.
The dated lighting system wasn’t producing quality levels of brightness on the field for night games, creating a potential safety issue.
The complete installation of new lights could cost upwards of $100,000.
Billerica Little League operates on registration fees and donations from area companies for much of its budget, making high cost items like new lights a potential budget breaker.
Luckily, only a portion of the lights themselves needed to be replaced at Pollard Field, not the entire apparatus.
Antonellis said he originally reached out to Fischbach & Moore in the hopes that they would donate a truck for installation. They went above and beyond in assisting the project.
They purchased all the lamps for replacement, and provided the trucks and manpower to complete the project.
“It was a big to-do,” Antonellis said of the work done on the field to ensure it wouldn’t be damaged by the weight of the equipment.
The project would have cost around $20,000, but thanks to the labor and equipment donated by IBEW Local 103 and Fischbach & Moore, it didn’t cost Billerica Little League anything.
This isn’t the first time IBEW Local 103 has donated work in Billerica. Just last year, the union partnered with Shawsheen Valley Technical High School to renovate the Marshall Middle School Auditorium in Billerica. They also installed the town’s holiday lights in the center.
For Antonellis and other IBEW Local 103 union members, they’re just wired to help.
“I love giving back to the community and most of the guys I work with do as well,” he said. “Whatever community calls and asks us to help out and pitch in, we really don’t say no. It’s in our blood.”
Tom Olson, Billerica Little League parent and longtime IBEW Local 103 member, said projects like these are important to the union members.
“We want to give back to the community that supports us, we try to do that with various projects,” he said.
Antonellis said the lights will last approximately five to seven years, but he’s already begun working with the local engineer to look for replacement inserts when they start to dim.
The lights were installed on June 22, just in time for the various town championship series to be played at Pollard Field.
Billerica Little League President Peter Stack shared his immense gratitude to those that contributed to the project.
“Due to the generosity of these individuals and their companies, another generation of Billerica baseball players will enjoy the privilege of playing under the lights at the Pollard,” he said.