George Schmid Memorial Park in Washougal has been home to East County Little League since it was built in 2006, but in 13 years fans watching their kids have had no way of keeping track of game scores unless they kept statistics themselves.
At most contests parents socialize until their own kids come up to bat, so for most fans the score has remained a mystery until games are over.
“I made it my mission to fundraise and get scoreboards to our fields and for the kids to fall in love with the game,” said East County Little League president Mike Plinski.
Plinski’s vision has come true: two big solar-powered boards are being installed and are expected to be up and running by the time the spring league kicks off with an opening ceremony on Saturday, April 13.
Seven years ago, Plinski started volunteering to maintain fields when his three boys, Jackson, Nick and Jake, started playing baseball. All of them have played in the league.
This is Plinski’s first year as president of the league, which provides baseball to 350 to 400 east Clark County residents per year, ranging from 4-year-old t-ballers to 13-year-olds who play in the intermediate league before heading off to Babe Ruth leagues or other sports.
When George Schmid Memorial Park was first built, there were supposed to be three fields, but the Great Recession stopped all progress on the third field along with underground utilities.
With no power on site, there could never be a scoreboard, lights or even a concession stand, but ECLL continued to grow anyway. This spring Plinski’s mission of getting the scoreboards is almost complete thanks to solar power, donations and a lot of hard work.
Because of the lack of power, ECLL has been looking into solar scoreboard options and in the past year has raised about $35,000 in donations towards the effort.
Riverview Savings kicked in $8,000, and local Little League supporters chipped in the rest. Installing the two scoreboards would have cost much more than $35,000 if it wasn’t for the crews from Clark County Public Utilities who donated their time and equipment to install the scoreboard infrastructure.
“Those guys were amazing. They all spent over eight hours here on Saturday, (March 16) working hard on their day off for us, and they were not getting paid,” Plinski said.
Typically, structural engineering work with the city and permits would have cost the league an additional $25,000, but the city allowed the league to sub out the work with volunteers, which made the scoreboard project financially feasible.