Brooklyn Elementary School fourth grade teacher Sean Maloney, a fan of Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams, has turned part of his four-acre Woodstock property into a replica of Fenway Park—Red Sox championship banners, scoreboard, stadium lights, and all.
True to the movie’s memorable line—If you build it, he will come—Maloney’s own ballfield has attracted everyone from Little Leaguers to retired Major League pitchers.
“I built the Wiffle ball field in 2016,” says Maloney. “I wanted my house to be a place where all my kids’ friends wanted to hang out.” His three children—sons Hayden (9) and Tristen (8) and daughter Teagan (8)—all play sports.
“Hayden and Tristen play flag football, basketball, and baseball, and Teagan does gymnastics,” he says. “I’m very active in the community, coaching basketball, baseball, and flag football, and we have a lot of people come to our house. Sometimes we have our friends from school over, and we also have get-togethers with our kids’ Little League and travel baseball teams. This year was really special, as our town’s Little League teams all made it to the sectionals of the Little League Tournament. With Woodstock being a small town, it’s been eight years since any of our teams got that far.”
Tucked behind trees and—yes—a cornfield, Maloney’s Wiffle ball field includes a dirt infield, benches, backstops, LED lights, and a replica “green monster” left field wall, all put together by Maloney, his father, and his best friend.
At a backyard awards ceremony put on by the New England Sports Network (NESN) in September, Maloney and 80 friends were treated to a cookout with special guests, former Red Sox pitcher Lenny DiNardo and play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien.
Maloney says the ballfield is not only a hit with his family but a community hangout as well, where adults and children often come together and play.
“We have community get-togethers where we play Wiffle ball under our field lights and then watch a movie on our green monster. Everyone loves the ‘drive-in’ feel, and it pulls everybody together and creates a close community.”
Score one for schools
Maloney’s ballfield has also served as a way to support local public schools. Recently, he hosted a benefit Wiffle ball tournament that raised $1,000 for a new playground at Woodstock Middle School.
Maloney, who was selected as a semifinalist for 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year, says his passion for baseball is matched only by his love of teaching.
“This is my 17th year teaching fourth grade at Brooklyn Elementary,” he says. “My teaching philosophy is centered around John Dewey’s quote, ‘If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.’
“I love pushing myself and finding innovative ways to engage my students. My favorite part of teaching is being able to use my creativity to engage my students. The moment a student ‘gets it’ is priceless. Teaching is a profession that is impossible to master. Every year, you are faced with a new classroom, educational trend, and a new schedule to follow. Striving to master this profession is a challenge I love to take on each year.”
He adds, “Being a semifinalist for the 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year has been a great honor, and I look forward to all the professional development opportunities and other experiences it will bring.”