LYNN — Rain postponements have dominated this year’s Ray Gallant Tournament more than baseball itself. The Gallant Tournament, in its 35th edition, has been forced to deal with unplayable weather conditions at Beverly’s Harry Ball Field since its tentative start date last Thursday.
The tournament’s schedule has been reshuffled and games have been postponed to a level that forced the Gallant to find a new venue for this weekend’s games. An annual softball tournament in Beverly begins Friday at Ball Field, meaning the Gallant committee needed a new diamond to handle the hosting duties for the remainder of the schedule.
Wyoma’s Reinfuss Field stepped up to the plate.
“There’s a huge annual softball tournament that starts Friday at Harry Ball Field,” Lynn Gallant team manager and Babe Ruth President Jeff Earp said. “There’s just no way they can fit the Gallant Tournament in so we had to move it somewhere else.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Earp said of this past week’s string of rain postponements. “Even back in all my years involved in Little League, we had rain and lost a day but we never lost a week. With Babe Ruth and all those tournaments you have rain and you lose a day, two at most. With this it just seemed like it rained every day at game time. It’s crazy.”
A pair of games were played at Ball Field Wednesday night, concluding the action in Beverly under the new schedule. The Gallant moves to Reinfuss Field beginning Friday, all the way through Sunday’s (6:30) championship game and Monday’s (6:30) “if necessary” game.
Earp said there’s plenty of work to be done leading up to Friday’s game in getting Reinfuss Field ready for play. The rain showers over the past week haven’t left the field in the best of conditions, meaning a team effort will be required to get Reinfuss in tip-top shape.
“It’s going to take a lot of work,” Earp said. “We’ll have a bunch of Wyoma board members down at the field Thursday night. We’ll go through all of that as far as doing what we have to do, getting the dugouts done, lining the field, cleaning up, everything we need to do to get it done. We’ll have people taking care of the perimeter and all that. Things got worse because of the flooding. It all has to be cleaned up. It’s a big undertaking but we minimize it.
“The perimeter, deep center field and beyond the fence is in a little rough shape with the water,” Earp said. “We’re going to have to work on it Thursday to get it ready. We’ll make it work. (Gallant assistant coach) John Meklis was there cutting the grass. With all the storms this week, there were tons of rocks and gravel that came down hills. We have to get a machine there tomorrow to get that out. There was a ton of work to get it done but we’re going to do it.”
As for Lynn’s standing in the tournament, the Lynners play Friday (7:30) against Danvers. Lynn was supposed to clash against Beverly Tuesday but the game was rained out. Shortly after Tuesday’s postponement, Beverly decided to bow out of the tournament. Marblehead has also bowed out.
“Every team is fighting,” Earp said. “We have kids going on vacation. These families have been busy with baseball since April. The all-star tournaments, City Series, Gallant adds another full week. Football starts soon. You have maybe a two-week period where a family can go on vacation and that’s not a lot of time to get things done.”
Earp feels as though hosting the remainder of the Gallant Tournament is worth list of tasks.
“It’s great for the kids and the city,” Earp said. “Here we are ready to jump in and put on a show.”
In Wednesday’s Gallant games, Peabody defeated Manchester-Essex 7-3 and Danvers took down Salem 11-2. Remaining in the tournament are Lynn, Peabody, Danvers and Salem.