Milford Junior Major League gets long-awaited ball field fence

A long-awaited ball field fence was being put up at the fields behind the Milford Public Library this weekend, and officials said Milford is the first to get the ground-breaking, one-of-a-kind fence.

It’s actually two removable fences that now separate two fields at Fowler Field. The Milford Junior Major League had been working to get the fences for safety reasons — to separate two fields — but came up against some concerns about the need to remove the fencing for the annual Milford Oyster Festival.

Once the league found a removable fence, its next hurdle was money. This wasn’t going to be a cheap fence: But then the Norma F. Pfriem Foundation popped up with an unexpected grant for $75,000 to help pay for the roughly $100,000 project, and the fence was a go.

Bob Lyndaker of Grand Slam Safety, a removable sport fencing company, was at the field Friday with league members putting up the fence. He said the fence is unique because players can’t run into a solid object if they accidentally run into the fence.

The mesh fence hangs from a metal post, but it hangs in front of the post, not directly against it. If a player runs into the fence, he will meet resistance before the netting reaches the metal post.

“It’s like a giant trampoline,” Lyndaker said.

According to the company’s website, the new design was just patented in November.

“The Safety Fence is now patented,” the website states. “We’ve got a one of a kind safe, removable outfield fence.”

The two fences separate the Bernard and Francis fields behind the library.

The project proved extra costly because the land is fill area, built atop what was once part of Milford Harbor, and threaded posts had to be drilled about 43 feet into the ground to provide a secure base for the fence posts.

Fence for safety

Baseball league officials believe the ball field fence is very important and had been trying to build it for more than a year. First they had to get city approval, then they had to start whittling away at the price tag.

Youths ages 4 to 12 play on the Bernard and Francis fields, which are back to back, and there's a chance of balls being hit into one field from the other, league officials said. There's also a chance that two players on different fields might run into each other running for fly balls.

“We were trying to be proactive in terms of safety,” League President George Spescha said several months ago.

The league initially wanted to put up permanent fencing at the fields, but met with resistance from the Milford Oyster Festival Committee, which uses the area for its summertime festival. So the league proposed a temporary fence that could be dismantled before and after the Oyster Festival.

League volunteers will be responsible for putting up the fence, taking it down and storing it, so there won't be any cost or burden to the city.

Lyndaker said when it’s time to take the fence down, the league has to remove the fencing, roll it up, and then remove the metal posts. A “turf plug” will be placed into the ground to cover the end of the poles where the posts had been inserted.

“It will look like just one open field again,” Lyndaker said.