On Saturday, August 4th, 2012, lightning struck Allard Park. It certainly wasn’t the first time lightning struck Goffstown’s hidden gem. For the most part the lightning strikes have been of a baseball nature when kids pull greatness out of the improbable. This strike, however, momentarily turned the storied Goffstown Babe Ruth Baseball program upside down. Lightning caused a fire to ignite and ultimately destroy the building we all know simply as, ‘The Barn’.
The Barn. This old building with so many stories tucked away in every nook and cranny. The building offered by the Allard family for baseball use year round. The Barn, where players worked to get better. The Barn, where so many took shelter in thunderstorms past, like the one that was its undoing. The Barn, where coaches met to get their season’s equipment. The Barn, where GBR All-Stars felt a little more important. The Barn, where any reason for a meeting was good enough. The Barn, where uniforms, equipment, first aid kits, and all things GBR Baseball were housed. The Barn, where each of us has memories we will hold forever.
Amidst the rubble and the disbelief that our baseball icon was gone we came in for a look at the fire ravaged building. I went over on a quiet morning or three to visit one of my all-time favorite spots. I sat down on the ground and just remembered the scenes playing in my mind. I remembered countless times in and around The Barn. I wrote a poem inspired by the history we shared, The Barn and I. It came out in the moments I sat there, next to the rubble of The Barn. The spot where I sat, I have shoveled snow from that spot, I have parked in that spot, I have played catch with players in that spot, I have retrieved foul balls from that spot, I talked with baseball friends in that spot, I have welcomed shade from The Barn in that spot, and it was the spot I reflected from.
So, this little baseball program, from not such a baseball hot spot in Southern NH, lost it’s baseball storage and workout facility. Just another New Hampshire weather related, sad story, for a little baseball program. I dare say, this is not your average, everyday, little youth baseball program. I could be wrong, but I think that this community has, does, and will come together and rally around our national pastime unlike most. People here plan their vacations for the end of August, or not at all, so that baseball can be completed. This often times means that Goffstown has teams playing post season ball through July and into August, competing at the District, State, and Regional level. As the pictures show, there is a history of winning in this program. Over the years, I have heard many local sentiments that unknowingly refer to the Goffstown Babe Ruth baseball program as ‘too competitive’. First, as it should be, it is competitive. What meaningful part of life isn’t? Second, I have also heard many praises from many of those same folks, who did sign their teen up to play, and were blown away at how much they loved it, how much the kids learned from it, and how wonderful the experience was, even if their player wasn’t an all-star. It’s a youth baseball program, a very good baseball program, but it’s still about the kids. Kids who enjoy baseball, want to get better, and even enjoy competing. As it should be.
So, with all that said, the emotion felt and shared, the stories told, the memories shared, and the reality of loss setting in, from the smoke and the smoldering, emerged one of the good people. Kevin Youkilis. Well, Kevin Youkilis and his foundation, Youk’s Kids. Almost six weeks after Youkilis was traded some 850 miles (in a straight line) away from this area, he still responded. He wasn’t asked to respond. He, and his foundation reached out to Goffstown Babe Ruth President, Kevin Baines. The phone call they made that Monday morning is one of the biggest reasons the GBR program was turned upside down only momentarily. Youk’s Kids offered to replace the lost baseball equipment up to $20,000, as I understand it. Wow! That’s incredible. One phone call in response to the Boston and Manchester news stations that had picked up on the story in this little baseball community.
In a day and age when too many people dismiss most things as, ‘not my problem’, it would be easy to dismiss this story from a Time Zone away. Dismissed? Not a chance. Youk’s Kids stepped up to do what they do. They help kids in need. Goffstown, New Boston, and Dunbarton make up our school district and also many of our youth athletics programs, and these kids aged 13-15 were in need for someone to help. Thank you Kevin Youkilis and Youk’s Kids for stepping up and helping this baseball rich community in a time of dire need. This baseball program means everything to many people each summer and with the thankless help of people like Kevin Youkilis and organizations like Youk’s Kids, this program will rise from the ash and be strong again. Thank you to Kevin Youkilis and his foundation.