NORTH ANDOVER — Ross McQuate wasn’t one of the best baseball players to come through the North Andover Booster Club Little League — his kid brother Mitchell would be on that short list — but his impact on the sport in this youth sports-crazed town is bigger than any grand slam or no-hitter.
McQuate, a soon-to-be senior at North Andover High, decided to give back to the Carl Thomas Fields complex, where he grew up playing and umpiring.
For his Eagle Scout project he built a much-needed shed to replace the old “POD” (Portable On Demand Storage), which is a place to store baseball equipment and an area for umpires to change.
McQuate went to local merchants to raise money for the materials and then solicited volunteers to help him build it.
“He not only saved us a lot of money,” said NABCLL president Kevin Breen, “but the area is now so much cleaner and nicer and offers a lot more space than the POD did. What a special young man Ross is.”
McQuate came up through the NABCLL system, first in T-ball, then “Coach Pitch,” and later the minors, majors and the Pony League.
After a brief retirement as a player, Ross worked out all winter at Ripp City Baseball in Bradford with instructor Dave Walsh, a former North Andover High star.
He eventually made the JV team and dressed for some varsity games. A lot of kids would quit in frustration with that situation.
In fact, quitting the Boys Scouts was an option for McQuate while in middle school. It wasn’t cool.
“We had weekly conversations on meeting night about what his other friends would think about him being a Boy Scout,” said his dad, Craig McQuate, who was a fundraiser and director for the local Boys Scouts group. “The thing was he enjoyed Scouts. It wasn’t easy, but thankfully he finally got past what his friends would think.”
In an impressive Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony at First Christian Church in Andover last week, McQuate earned scouting’s top honor, which followed his earning 21 merit badges and his Eagle Scout project.
What was really “cool” was the fact that four of his closest friends showed up for the ceremony, which also included his troop and his family.
While playing baseball has never come easy for McQuate, the game’s lessons are far-reaching.
“First of all, as with most sports, it is a team effort and you need to learn to help people and make new friends on a new team,” said McQuate.
“I also like that you don’t have to be perfect in baseball and you can redeem yourself your next time at the plate. It teaches you to forget the past and move on to the next play and keep a clear mind.”
McQuate’s gift to the town and its Little Leaguers will be a gift that keeps on giving to struggling Little Leaguers like he once was.
“I had so much fun playing baseball when I was younger,” said McQuate. “If feels pretty good to give back.”
Sounds like something a superstar would say, doesn’t it?
You can e-mail Bill Burt at email@example.com.
Did you know ... ? That Ross McQuate is in exclusive company when he earned his Eagle Scout honors. According to the Boy Scouts of America, which has a membership of nearly 3 million boys, only five percent will earn their Eagle.