The large shovel had too much handle for Tyler Smith. The 8-year-old catcher, dressed in a Sykesville Mets baseball uniform, planted his feet firmly among the red, white and blue ribbons atop the scoop, held onto the handle and jumped down.
He fell into the hole his teammate was digging.
Undaunted by the sweltering heat and unwieldy shovel, Tyler vowed "to keep digging." He had good reason.
"I am going to be playing ball here soon," he said.
Tyler and several uniformed Little League players joined Carroll's all-star groundbreaking celebration at Sykesville Park yesterday.
The event, attended by about 100 officials and residents, signaled the start of construction, set for completion late in 1994.
The state is leasing the 90-acre site on Raincliffe Road, just off Route 32, to the county for a dollar a year. Thanks to two county commissioners and a state delegate, that rent is paid for the first three years of the 50-year lease.
"I want to pay the first dollar," said Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, as he handed the bill to Mike Nelson of the state Department of Natural Resources.
Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy followed his lead.
"Carroll County stepped up to the plate and worked with us," said Mr.Nelson in accepting the token payment.
Mr. Dixon said he marveled at the hundreds of players and spectators who use the league's Obrecht Road ball fields on Saturdays. When the county's planned extension of Obrecht Road threatened to eliminate those eight fields, he and league officials searched for another site.
"It was difficult to imagine ball fields on these hills, but the state was willing to give and we said 'we'll take,' " said Mr. Dixon. "Carroll County deserves credit for getting the bond funding to make this project go forward."
The county will spend $815,000 to transform the hilly property into six ball fields and two multipurpose fields. Obrecht Road construction will begin after the new park opens.
"The park brings together the best elements to make sure citizens don't loose a recreational opportunity while the county makes improvements for the future," said Mr. Dell.
"Our children will learn to be good ball players and good citizens here."
Bill Schaefer, president of the Freedom Area Recreation Council, said the year-round park will have an impact on all recreation in the area.
Little League officials joined the commissioners in digging the first six shovels of earth. When they had their digs in, they passed the shovels to six young ball players.
l Robbie Ruch, 9, in a red, white and blue Giants uniform, said he looked forward to many at-bats in the new park.
"I have one more season at the old fields," he said. "Then, I'll be down here."
"I want to be invited back to throw out the first ball of the 1995 season," Mr. Dixon said.