For the past 42 years, Frank Carey has been the face of North Reading baseball. Yesterday, the Hornets ensured the Carey name would be linked with the sport in North Reading for years to come by dedicating the park to him before a 10-3 win over Manchester-Essex in a Cape Ann League game.
The newly dedicated Carey Park hadn't changed much since the coach's first game -- until recently.
"We used to have people horseback riding through the outfield," said Carey, who was hired as junior varsity coach in 1965 and took over the varsity in 1968. Now, cars travel along Park Street just past the outfield fences. A half-dozen trees still grace the power alleys, but the Diamond Club, a group of former North Reading ballplayers formed last November, has transformed the rest of park into a place worth dedicating to the storied coach.
"This has been a real community effort, with a lot of help from volunteers and alumni," Carey told the large crowd. Policemen, selectmen, the school superintendent, family, friends, and players' parents gathered to salute the longtime coach, who guided North Reading to a Division 1 state championship in 1974 and has more than 600 wins.
When his ex-players stepped onto the field to honor Carey before the game, it seemed like half the crowd had assembled.
"This [improved field] became a reality because of the interest of the town, the alumni, and the school department," said ex-player Marco Vittozzi, Class of 1981.
The Diamond Club already has raised more than $35,000 for Carey Park, and local business owners and volunteers have donated thousands more in labor and materials.
"Baseball is a special game. It is a game built on tradition. In Frank Carey, we have the rock that is the foundation of that tradition," said Selectman Phil Dardeno.
Dressed in North Reading's signature green and yellow, Carey, who coached his first JV game at the school in 1966, had some fun with the moment.
"I want to thank everyone for coming to my memorial service," he quipped. "I didn't know I'd be here this long when I started, and I never really thought about stopping."
"This field honors you, but you also honor this field," said former principal Arthur Kenney, the man who hired Carey in '65.
Yesterday's win was just another one for Carey's guys. "My guys, I've always referred to them as my guys," said the coach. "I love what I do. I coach and I teach.
"This park and these kids are a reflection of that."
Cape Ann: Senior Phil Perriello went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs to get Lynnfield past Georgetown, 7-6.
Nonleague: Cardinal Spellman coach Peter Ambrose will have to wait at least one more game to get his 600th career win after losing an 11-10 heartbreaker to Bishop Stang at Brockton. Spellman (8-2) was ahead, 10-7, after the sixth inning, but a series of errors and wild pitches allowed Bishop Stang to tie the score in the seventh. Walter Butler's single drove in the winning run. "We had the game won," said Ambrose, whose team committed seven errors. "We killed ourselves." . . . It took nine innings for Billerica to defeat Waltham, 6-5, via junior Joe Corey's RBI single with two outs. Corey had two hits, and junior Ken Mangie had four hits and two RBIs.
Catholic Central: Junior lefthander Robert Lerro tossed a two-hitter and belted a two-run homer as Savio Prep improved to 6-1 with a 10-0 defeat of St. Clement.
ISL: St. Sebastian's took a 10-9 overtime win against Rivers as junior attack Harry Maxwell scored the winner.
Middlesex: Junior Zack Power had a goal and three assists and junior Matt O'Neil added two goals and one assist as Belmont recorded its first win of the season, besting Woburn, 8-4.
Nonleague: Peabody beat Malden Catholic for the first time in seven years, 11-6. Six of Peabody's goals came from Matthew Savage; Ed Leonard added two goals and five assists.
Catholic Central: Sophomore third baseman Carissa Diramio tripled twice and doubled once, and freshman first baseman Eric Knowles belted a two-run homer as Archbishop Williams beat Arlington Catholic, 6-1.
Nonleague: Cardinal Spellman (10-3) scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to beat East Bridgewater, 4-3 . . . Junior Erin Wade threw her third no-hitter of the season as Taunton defeated Durfee, 2-0. Wade (12-1) struck out 15 and walked one.
Globe correspondents Jason Claffey and Andrew Silver contributed to this report.