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Crockers continue to give
The Fitchburg community loves Crocker Field. The Crocker family continues to show its love, too. When renowned Boston Red Sox in-house artist Mark Waitkus decided to create four original watercolor paintings of Crocker Field -- Fitchburg High vs. Leominster High Thanksgiving Day game scene, the outside of the clubhouse, the Circle Street gate entrance and the inside of the clubhouse trophy room filled with FHS memorabilia -- and donate them to the Crocker Field Restoration Committee (CFRC), the goal was to sell these one-of-a-kind paintings to generate money for the continued restoration of historic Crocker Field. With the help of Fitchburg High graduates Ann and Peter Capodagli, of the Boulder Art Gallery, they contacted Alvah Crocker's great, great grandson, Alan Crocker, of Ashburnham, and asked if the family would be interested in purchasing the prints, which were created to signify the 100-year celebration of Crocker Field. Alan Crocker reached out to several cousins from Montana, New Mexico, Colorado, New Hampshire, Vermont and Mass, and pooled their money together to buy all four Waitkus watercolors for $5,000, with the proceeds going to the CFRC. The family, however, has gone above and beyond. While they purchased these magnificent pieces of artwork, they also elected to donate all four framed paintings back and all will forever be displayed inside the Crocker Field Clubhouse Trophy Room for all to enjoy. "It was an easy decision," said Alan Crocker. "Everybody loves Crocker Field. We want people to see them. That's where they belong. They don't belong in anyone's living room. "There aren't many Crocker Fields out there; there aren't many high schools stadiums. We need to try to do our part to help and do whatever we can." Fitchburg High Athletic Director and CFRC Vice President Ray Cosenza couldn't be happier with the Crocker family's latest donations. "We are so thrilled that the Crocker Family continues to support the restoration of Crocker Field with this generous gesture," Cosenza said, "and then to have them donate them back to be hung in the clubhouse is truly amazing." All this would have never been possible without the kind heart of Waitkus, who fell in love with Crocker Field when he was a baseball player at Wachusett Regional High School. "We can't thank Mark enough," Cosenza said. "When he called me out of the blue expressing an interest in helping us raise money for Crocker Field, I did not know what to expect in terms of what type of revenue it would bring in. The sale of the prints, which Mark signed each one individually, was a huge success. It has been a great fundraiser for our group, but beyond that, to have original paintings hanging at Crocker of such a renown artist is very special. "So my original expectations of this project were definitely exceeded, and we owe a great debt of gratitude to Mark." Peter and Ann Caodagli and the Boulder Art Gallery were also instrumental in the sale of Waitkus' original paintings. "Here we had these amazing, valuable Waitkus paintings, which he donated to the CFRC, and we had no idea how to go about selling them," Cosenza said. "So we reached out to Peter to ask if he would display them at the Boulder Art Gallery and to help us attempt to sell the originals. Peter agreed to take on the project and did so without taking a commission on the sale. He reached out to Alan Crocker and, as the saying goes, the rest is history." Capodagli said they "jumped on the opportunity" to display local art that the community always enjoys. "I'm pretty sure we could have sold them individually because they are great paintings," Capodagli said. "I had them on display here for maybe three or four weeks and I studied them, and the more I looked at them, the more I came to the conclusion that this set shouldn't be broken up and that they should really stay together because they tell an interesting story. It's a huge part of the 100th-year celebration of Crocker Field. Once they are sold individually, they are lost forever." Once he spoke with Alan Crocker, he knew these watercolors would be purchased and donated back. "Alan and the whole Crocker family have a very, very keen and historic connection to Crocker Field," Capodagli said. "This was one other way they could show their commitment to the community and their commitment to the history that Crocker Field has." The fundraising efforts continue for the CFRC. "This fundraiser, along with the brick project, are the two most successful ones," Cosenza said. "The money raised from this project has not been earmarked for a specific need as of yet, but rest assured it will greatly assist us in the work that needs to be done at Crocker."
Author: Chad Garner