Now the Tuckers have dugouts to call their own

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck players said they are happy with their new dugouts, which shelter them from the wind and cold.

Now the Mattituck Tuckers have a home when they’re home.

For years the Tuckers had no refuge from the elements when they played home baseball games. The Tuckers were the only team in Suffolk County League VII that didn’t have dugouts, and that can be tough when you play on one of the windiest, coldest fields in Suffolk. For players and coaches, shivering in the early-spring cold was as much a part of the game as ground balls and pop flies.

But that is the case no more. The construction of dugouts in Mattituck, something that had been discussed for at least the past nine years, became a reality a couple of weeks ago when two dugouts were erected on the high school field.

Since then the Tuckers have played two games with the wooden dugouts up, and the new structures have received rave reviews from their occupants.

“It took a while, but we finally got it,” George Lessard, a junior middle infielder, said. “I love them. I think they’re great dugouts. … I think the whole team loves [them]. I think it brings us together a little more.”

Mattituck Coach Steve De Caro said: “They are wonderful. They’re built better than my house. It’s like we have a new house to decorate.”

The dugouts did not cost the school a single cent. All the materials and services were donated by parents of players and friends of the program, not to mention the players themselves, who picked up shovels and went to work.

Things started to move a month ago when, following a Saturday morning scrimmage, the players, with the help of parents Joe Finora, George Lessard Sr. and Paul Finger, dug three pits between 6 and 8 inches deep. A week after that, cement was poured into the pits. Two weekends ago, the dugouts were built. At one point, four carpenters were working at the site at the same time, said De Caro, who did not know what the cost of the project was.

“It was hard, but it was fun at the same time just because the whole team was kind of together on it,” George Lessard said. “They just buckled down and got it all done.”

In addition to the two dugouts, which have yet to be painted, a concrete slab sits behind the backstop. That is where a scorer’s table will sit under a canopy.

The Tuckers are fans of the new structures, and that’s not just because they are 2-0 since the dugouts went up. Players said the dugouts are roomy and comfortable. Most importantly, they provide the players with shelter from the wind gusts that routinely whip over the field.

“I think we should put a windmill out there,” junior outfielder James Finora joked. “Yeah, it’s very windy, and the dugouts help out a lot. It keeps you warmer and I think it may keep you focused.”

Comfort isn’t the only benefit of the dugouts. An argument could be made that they promote better baseball. Instead of thinking about how to stay warm, players can focus on playing.

“It really does protect you from the wind, and everyone’s in a much better mood, it seems,” said Ryan Finger, a sophomore who can play left field, third base or pitch. “I’ve seen a lot of dugouts and ours are definitely up there as one of the best.”

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