Certain things always happen in springtime. These include the appearance of the first robin, the crack of the bat, and Daylight Savings Time.
An additional spring occurrence in Carroll County is Dale Bloom and his ball diamond manicuring equipment showing up at the Carroll County Sports Complex.
Bloom is a volunteer who has spent oodles of hours in various capacities on the fields He has been a groundskeeper, a specialized equipment provider and equipment operator and whatever else is needed.
Recognizing his contributions, Sports Complex Manager Matt Purkins named the Westminster resident the Complex's Volunteer of the Year for 2015.
Bloom's appearances at the Complex aren't limited to his role as a volunteer.He sponsors and plays for the Carroll County Men's Softball League's Illuminati slow-pitch team. He also umpires a couple of nights a week. One might say he really likes that place.
After getting out of the Marine Corps some years ago, Bloom started two businesses. One is Bloom Trucking, a hauling firm which is involved in construction activities on the side. Some of its construction equipment is perfectly suited for fixing up ball diamonds.
One such piece is a skid steer or Bobcat which can be used for leveling and smoothing out ground. When the Complex gets its twice a year delivery of ball field mix infield dirt, Bloom's Bobcat is there to work it in and smooth it out.
"This is greatly appreciated by our grounds keeping staff, as they would spend days or even weeks shoveling, spreading and raking out dirt," Purkins explained.
Other times, Bloom brings equipment to pick up stones and clean off the warning tracks. In the past, this sometimes meant coming four or five times a season to work on the Complex.Now, he's needed only needed two or three.
Purkins said that those visits save the county a lot of money.
A couple of years ago, Bloom likely saved such a tournament with his timely volunteerism. This was the Men's Majors, a high-powered slow-pitch affair that draws top teams from throughout the country. Some 15 teams were slated to play at the Complex, beginning on a Saturday morning during summer of 2014.
"We had five or six inches of rain the Thursday night before. We had to aerate and smooth the infield dirt. We began about 4 a.m. that morning and finished up about 9 a.m. They were supposed to start at 8, so they were only about an hour late," Bloom recalled.
The appreciative Purkins said that the county could have lost the tournament if the teams hadn't been able to use the diamonds.Since the players come from around the country and are accompanied by their fans and families. Local businesses would have lost thousands of dollars in revenue if the tournament had been cancelled.
Bloom explains that, "the county doesn't have this stuff so I rent stuff for them and also lend my own.I just love doing it. This gives me an opportunity to help somebody out."
Bloom has a built-in flexibility that enables him to volunteer his time as he sees fit. He doesn't have to worry about his boss because he's his own boss.
"I work for myself, so I can take off a day or two whenever I want," he said.
Purkins explained that Bloom helped out even more than usual last year, and that is why he selected him.
"If we would have had to rent the equipment he provided last year, it might have cost us a couple of thousand dollars," Purkins explained.
Bloom says that he will continue to play softball at the Carroll facility and help others to do the same. In fact, he and Purkins are already arranging for his first appearance on the diamonds in a couple of weeks.
"As long as I'm able, I will volunteer up there as much as I can," Bloom said. "If I can make it better, I'm there.I'll be around softball until I die. I love it that much."