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Little League will light the night

The Little League field at Luchessi Park will be lighted at night thanks to the Petaluma American Little League. In the photo, Petaluma Americans salute a flag flying at half mast in memory of American Little Leaguer Trevor Smith who died in 2012.

Laurie Erickson/Argus-Courier file photo
Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 10:51 a.m.

On the third day of February, in the year 2014, the Petaluma American Little Leaguers symbolically proclaimed, “Let there be light” at one of the baseball diamonds in Luchessi Park.

Though it wasn't a proposal of Biblical proportions, the Petaluma American Little Leaguers made history Monday night, when their offer to purchase lighting at one of three little league fields in Lucchesi Park was accepted by the Petaluma City Council. The diamond will be the first lighted little league field in Petaluma.

“It's a wonderful donation on behalf of the Petaluma American Little League,” said Assistant City Manager Scott Brodhun. “It illustrates their 'can-do' attitude and is an example of a great partnership with the city.”

Each February, Little League tryouts in Petaluma begin. Youngsters throughout the city step up to the plate with larger-than-life dreams of making it to the Little League World Series, like the 2012 Petaluma National Little Leaguers did in the historic run that took them all the way to South Williamsport, Pa.

But after the teams are chosen and the season stretches on, local little league officials struggle to fit all their games into a single Saturday. Couple that with a shortage of available fields, and the need for nighttime games emerges.

Under the agreement, the league will pay to install four light poles with 18 total lights that will illuminate the little league field. The league will also pay for maintenance and light bulb replacement, while the city will pay the yearly utility bills — expected to be less than $1,500 annually. The new lights will allow the Petaluma league to reduce the number of Sunday games, push back the 8 a.m. Saturday start time and schedule two games per night as needed.

Brodhun said that the league will not permit new innings to start after 10 p.m. on the lighted field, but will allow innings already in progress to be finished if they stretch past the 10 o'clock hour. Currently, 32 bulbs on eight poles light the adjacent field at Lucchesi Park, which hosts soccer and lacrosse practices almost every night of the year. These lights go dark by 10:15 p.m.

(Contact Janelle Wetzstein at janelle.wetzstein@arguscourier.com.)

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