Special Olympics Vipers win over neighborhood, 19-11

Parkwood Beach ballfield hosts first game in decades

Jun 25, 2022

The Parkwood Beach ballfield hosted its first game in decades on Saturday, June 25: An exciting match between the Wareham Vipers Special Olympics softball team and the Parkwood Beach neighborhood. The Vipers won 19-11. 

The Vipers have been practicing on the field — just a softball pitch away from the home of Coach Steven Medeiros — for several years, but the friendly neighborhood match was the first played on the field. And the Vipers-Parkwood game is set to be at least an annual event.

The field itself dates back to the 20s and 30s, when it hosted a team that competed against those from other Wareham neighborhoods including Pinehurst and Swifts Beach. One neighbor, whose uncles played on the team, said the field’s first backstop was built from an old raft.

Over the years, the field fell out of use and became overgrown — a teen hang-out away from parental oversight.. Resident Kevin Burke explained its recent history: When Parkwood was undergoing extensive sewer work, the neighborhood allowed the construction company to use the field. In return, the company did the initial work to get the field closer to playable condition. Then, the association fundraised and installed a sprinkler system and got it ready to play.

On Saturday, the Gatemen visited and threw out the first pitch before the game began. While attendees enjoyed classic ballpark fare like hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks — courtesy Upper Cape Realty — the teams were hard at work under the hot sun. 

The players on both teams were dedicated and good-natured, calling out encouragement and joking together. 

Occasionally, a foul ball or exceptional home run would fly over the treeline, crashing down through the branches as an outfielder looked hopefully through the underbrush. 

“My heart’s out there on that field,” one Parkwood player said mid-game.

The game was called by Gregg Donahue, who grew up in the neighborhood. He said the game brought back memories of his childhood, playing ball and taking part in weekly talent shows at the Clubhouse. 

Wade Combs interspersed the game with traditional ballfield organ music and classic rock hits between innings. He said that while it was his first baseball game, he’s been a dj for 25 years and took time to study up how the music is played at professional games. 

Resident Suzanne Burke said that the neighborhood has hosted the Vipers’ practices for several years. 

“We want them to feel like it's their home, too,” she said.

Adrian Dugre, a six-year player on the Vipers, said “It’s a whole new family here.” 

Malcolm Monterio, a five-year player, said his favorite moment of the game was a home-run scored by his teammate, Cam.

“What I love about these players is they give you 100% no matter what position you put them in,” said Vipers Coach Steven Medeiros. “You put them in, they play no matter what.” 

Medeiros said he works to give all the players a chance in each position. He said the team loves coming to the field for practice twice a week, and that they always practice hard.

Michael Collins, a third-generation resident with a fifth-generation Parkwood grandchild, led the Pledge of Allegiance. He noted that the game was the culmination of 15 or 20 years of work together as a community.

“I’m just having the time of my life watching this,” Collins said. “This is like a dream come true.”