The second floor of Malverne High School affords a view...

The second floor of Malverne High School affords a view of a baseball game between the Mules and visiting West Hempstead on Malverne's brand new field, complete with artificial turf, on Saturday. Credit: James Escher

The moment Keondre Greene and Tyler Rouse had been patiently awaiting finally arrived on Saturday.

Both are seniors and long-standing members of the Malverne baseball team. However neither of them had ever played a true home game. And with the ribbon cut on the Mules’ new $1.5 million field, it was time to take the field against West Hempstead.

“We’ve played road games and we’ve played at the middle school, but now we have a home field,” Rouse said pointing to the word “Mules” emblazoned on the turf between the home plate area and the back stop. I’ve been wanting to play a game on this field since they started building it.”

The new baseball park has just about everything a baseball team could want – including a first win after the Mules triumphed 11-0 behind lefty Matt Merkel’s complete game and Greene’s three RBI performance.

The dugouts are roomy and have racks for bats and equipment. There is a sound system for music as well as a public address system – which was used to introduce both teams to a cheering crowd before the game.

The infield is all artificial surface and Malverne officials tried to put a special touch on it by having the areas that would be dirt on a traditional infield, a light brown. The outfield is grass and quite spacious; it will accommodate soccer games in the fall without going into the artificial turf infield. There are a set of stands in left centerfield that some think looks akin to the ‘Judge’s Chamber’ in right field at Yankee Stadium.

Malverne athletic director Micheal Pelan explained that breaking ground on the baseball field took place on September 24, 2021 as the final stage of a major infrastructure project at the school. “And it’s brought a lot of enthusiasm for the baseball program,” he added. “We have 15 varsity players and 24 JV players – that’s the most we’ve had in a long time.”

Glenn E. Mitchell, a 1986 alumnus who played minor league baseball in the Braves and Angels organizations, threw out the first pitch. He called the park “beautiful” and a “great gift for Malverne baseball.”

The Mules haven’t actually played a baseball game on their school grounds since 2018 and the previous field was very problematic. It took days to drain after a rainstorm and often forced the team to carry all its equipment across Ocean Avenue to the middle school and to hold practices and games there. Mitchell remembered it being a problem, even when he played at Malverne.

“We’d have infield in the outfield because of the puddles in the infield,” said Kenny Susi, a Mules assistant coach for the past 20 seasons. “It just held water.”

“We knew this would be a dream, but it really came to life Thursday,” Malverne coach Joe Dunn said. “When it rained, we’d sometimes have to pump the water off the field if we even wanted to try to practice. After the rainstorm on Wednesday, the field was perfect for practice on Thursday.

“We won’t have to cancel as many games and this team finally has a real home,” he added.

“People are excited about the baseball program at school,” Rouse said. “This is a place that people want to play.”

After the ribbon cutting, the crowd was read a proclamation from the Town of Hempstead and a few community leaders spoke to essentially welcome the Mules to their new home.

When Dunn was given a microphone to address the crowd during the opening ceremony, he simply said “it’s a dream come true for all of us.”

However it was Greene whose words in the ceremony that might have elicited the biggest reaction.

“We are going to pay you back for building this field,” he said. “This is going to be an entertaining season and we’re going to do a lot of winning here.”

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