BERLIN - There was plenty of red surrounding Baretta Field on Friday afternoon.
Former Berlin baseball players crowded the stands and current Redcoats players lined up on the field.
It was because there was a ceremony celebrating the renaming of Percival Field to Baretta Field.
Baretta. the former Berlin great passed away on May 8, 2017. He spent much of his childhood time there and dreamt of playing professional baseball.
Baretta reached his dream of playing professional baseball when the New York Yankees drafted him in 1969. He would spend five years in the minor leagues before eventually returning back to his hometown to teach the youth the game he loved.
His daughter, Andrea Baretta Maule and other family and friends were in attendance to pay tribute to a man that did so much for those in the community.
“It means a lot,” Baretta Maule said. “It’s very special, we’re honored as a family. My dad knew a lot of people in town. He knew a lot about the game. He took what he learned in the minor leagues and tried to bring it to Berlin baseball at the high school level. He brought something special to the town in that aspect. He built a lot of relationships around baseball.”
His list of accomplishments is a long one. In addition to playing professional baseball, Baretta was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Berlin Sports Hall of Fame. Being part of the first class is special as those involved in deciding the inductees took much time deciding who would make up the first class.
Baretta is also in the Southern Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame and served as a scout for the New York Mets organization when New York won its last World Series title back in 1986.
Ted Swanson, Baretta’s good friend, addressed those in attendance. He touched on Baretta being hard on those he coached or mentored in the game. But Baretta always made the extra effort to reach out and check in on those he coached.
“If somebody had a bad game my Dad would call them up and say ‘hang in there, you got it next time.’” Baretta Maule said. “I think that was the mentorship piece. His love for the game went beyond the field.”
While he’s no longer around, Baretta still has a way of impacting others lives.
Following the ceremony, the Berlin baseball team won its game against Northwest Catholic.
Current Redcoats players reacted to what the ceremony meant to them following the game.
“It definitely meant a lot to me,” Berlin pitcher Ethan Skinner said.
“This is the most people I’ve ever pitched in front of by far probably. It means a lot to the town too to get a win on such an important day. It’s a good day in all for Berlin.”
“I didn’t know the guy but from what everyone says it sounds like he was a great guy,” Berlin’s Holden Murphy said. “So to come out and be able to get a win for him is a good win.”
Behind home plate is a sign that states Baretta’s name and a quote Baretta commonly used below. It reads, “it’s a great day for baseball.”
Friday afternoon was indeed a great day for baseball.
It was also a great day for all in the Berlin community.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org