Dedicating a Diamond

BENWOOD – Scott Melko wasn’t just a man who loved baseball. He lived it. He breathed it.

For many years, the field at City Park in Benwood was his sanctuary. And Monday, he’ll be a part of the diamond forever.

As part of the community’s Memorial Day festivities, the field, located just off Route 2, will be renamed the Scott Melko Memorial Baseball Field.

”It’s quite an honor,” said Scott’s widow, Monica. ”There are so many men and women who have put their time in other than Scott. It was surprising to me. There are so many people you could name it after and they picked Scott.

”It’s such a nice honor and I know he’d be so proud.”

The dedication will take place sometime between noon and 12:30 p.m. and will be followed by a Shetland contest where Scott’s children, Brock and Beth Ann, will throw out the ceremonial first pitches.

”He certainly left his mark,” Monica said of Scott. ”A lot of kids got a chance to play that might not have had a chance to play past Little League if it wasn’t for someone like Scott to take them under his wing. He did that. And I think a lot of kids in the area are grateful for that.”

Before passing away after a battle with Leukemia, Scott was a familiar presence at the field as a coach and caretaker.

”We spent a lot of time here,” Monica remembered. ”We lived in Benwood for 15 years after we were married and Scott spent a lot of time coaching (at the field).

”He would come up well before everyone else got here and line the field and he’d be up here cutting grass on days where nothing was going on or he’d have a day off.

”He’d be up here working on the field like it was his own backyard.”

The effort to rename the field after Scott began last year.

”Herk (Sparachane, proprietor of Undo’s in Benwood) and Curt Mele (Bishop Donahue softball coach), along with the Giovengos, have been planning this since last summer,” Monica said.

”We had given them money from our golf scramble to help fix up the field, but I never expected this.”

Not long after Scott died on April 14, 2007, Sparachane suggested to Monica a golf scramble be started and take place annually to raise money for scholarships at Bishop Donahue High School, where Scott and Monica graduated. The event takes place Labor Day weekends.

When Monica learned the field at City Park needed some much-needed repairs she decided to donate funds from the golf scramble to aid the effort.

But she never dreamed her husband’s name would grace the facility forever.

”I’m really excited to see the scoreboard with his name on it … that’s when it’s going to hit me.”

Numerous members of Scott’s family will be on hand for the dedication, along with many people Scott touched through the years.

”It’s going to be great,” Monica said. ”I’m so proud of everything he did up here.

”It just means he’ll never be forgotten.”