My two years in Vienna Little League (AA Senators and AAA Red Sox) were not terribly distinguished, but I enjoyed them. A big reason I was able to do so was through the efforts of Fred Crabtree, who died recently at age 96. Vienna Little League is now entering its 60th year and first without Crabtree.
I don’t recall any direct experience with him, but I remember playing at Crabtree Field one of the three diamonds in Yeonas Park. I think I also remember a Vienna Times story about the push for sound barriers along Interstate 66 next to Yeonas with somebody, probably Crabtree, holding his ears. If my memory is accurate, Yeonas was built about 4 years before I-66 was constructed right behind it. In addition to the argument for keeping out traffic noise, it was argued that sound walls would keep foul balls from going into traffic. Even then I knew that was a dubious argument, but nets were put up initially. Sound walls were eventually installed.
The State of NoVa blog on The Post details Crabtree’s contributions and accomplishments to Vienna and Fairfax County. A retweet of that prompted Jamie Mottram of Mr. Irrelevant to write a Crabtree post as well. Little League also remembered Crabtree.
A great story from this 2010 Fairfax Times profile:
Fred Crabtree learned the value of baseball during World War II.
As an Army engineer stationed in the Pacific theater, Crabtree helped build a baseball diamond for his fellow soldiers in Okinawa, Japan. Each day, he would set up the field. Each night, the Japanese would bomb it.
“Every night, they would drop a string of bombs right on the damn field,” said Crabtree with a laugh. “They would drop a whole string.”
Although the field wasn’t perfect, the soldiers didn’t have proper uniforms and the professional baseball players in the service monopolized playing time, that baseball field was a piece of home for the troops. That piece of land was important.
Good stuff and a good life.