Winning Little League volunteer touts teamwork

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Nate Stone of Gray, second from left, was honored at the August 6 Red Sox game as the Red Sox Foundation's Maine Little League volunteer of the year. To Stone's right is Gray-New Gloucester Little League President Edward Libby, who nominated Stone.

Nate Stone of Gray, second from left, was honored at the August 6 Red Sox game as the Red Sox Foundation’s Maine Little League volunteer of the year. To Stone’s right is Gray-New Gloucester Little League President Edward Libby, who nominated Stone.

GRAY — Nate Stone may be getting some MVP treatment for his volunteer work with the Gray-New Gloucester Little League, but he insists that its all about teamwork.

Stone, 43, was recognized by the Red Sox Foundation and Maine Little League as Maine’s top Little League volunteer for 2017. He and his family received great seats to the Aug. 6 game at Boston’s Fenway Park, where he was recognized on the field before the game began.

“I’m not the only one out there working,” Stone said about the other volunteers who help the local league function. “Everyone puts in the time that we can.”

He noted that there are 15 board members and 31 head coaches in the Gray-New Gloucester league, and that an “army” of nearly 90 parents helps in some capacity. He also made sure to commend the two towns for their support in terms of providing places for the league to play ball.

Stone, who wears several hats within the league, including field maintenance director, secretary and information officer, said that his job as a self-employed computer programmer gives him the scheduling flexibility to dedicate the time.

“Calling Nate my ‘right hand man’ would be an understatement,” said Gray-New Gloucester Little League President Edward Libby in a letter nominating him for the recognition.

Along with listing his many contributions to the league’s management, which include assembling a volunteer grounds crew for field maintenance and serving as a key contact point for parents and coaches, Libby also pointed to Stone’s role as a coach.

“He is the coach parents ask for each year,” Libby said about Stone. “His passion for the game comes out in the great and well-rounded way he coaches children.”

Stone lives in Gray and his two sons, 11-year-old Zach and 7-year-old Henry, both play in the league. Libby’s nomination letter says that Stone coaches one of his sons’ teams during the season, and Stone said that is the most fun part for him.

As a coach, Stone said it is “really neat” to see kids develop a love for baseball.

“You never know who’s going to be the kid that starts to love the game that year,” he added.

Stone didn’t know anything about the volunteer of the year recognition until Libby told him he had been nominated. A week later, he received a call from the Red Sox Foundation.

He and his family found themselves in great seats close to the dugout for the Aug.  6 Red Sox game against the Chicago White Sox. His on-field recognition before the game started was part of the team’s annual “Maine Day,” where other inspiring Mainers were also recognized.

“It was Maine Day at the stadium, so there were probably five or six presentations,” Stone said, noting that one of the other Mainers highlighted was a veteran.

As part of the recognition, Stone received a customized Red Sox jersey with his name and number 17 on the back (17 because he’s the 2017 recipient). He was also shown on the jumbotron.

“That was really cool,” he said.

The Red Sox also cooperated, beating the White Sox 6-3 and providing a couple of home runs in the process.

It was “just a beautiful day for baseball … couldn’t ask for a better day at the park” according to Stone, who also said that his sons got to run the bases after the game as part of an occasional promotion for all young fans in attendance under the age of 14.

Libby also attended the game and was on the field with Stone beforehand. He explained in an email that he first recommended Stone for the recognition through Maine Little League’s District 6, of which Gray-New Gloucester is part. The District 6 president then selected Stone as the district’s nominee, and he was later chosen out of all the Maine district nominations.

“It is a pretty big deal for our local league,” Libby said, particularly because its smaller compared to leagues like those in Portland or other cities. “In times where volunteerism seems to be declining it is nice to see the Red Sox looking to celebrate those who go the extra mile.”

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

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