Most everyone knew John Stevenson through his lifetime of commitment to Bethlehem and the surrounding area. John grew up in Bethlehem and owned MacEddie's Service Station and Stevenson Oil. He told it like it was and he was like he told it. A gentleman with a huge heart that was not afraid to remind someone of their manners and how people should be treated. That went a long way throughout his lifetime, as he served on many boards and held many titles. He served in the Army from 1955 - 1957. When he returned, he started coaching the Bethlehem youth. For many, it was John that first reminded them of their manners. Right up until 1999, you could find John on the diamond coaching and later umping. With a passionate "Play Ball" and "Steeeeeriiiiiike,” you knew what the call was. And if the mask came off, some player or coach was getting a lesson on acceptable behavior. A lesson they probably treasure now!
John passed away on April 5, 2012. His wife Nancy wanted to do something for the youth of Bethlehem knowing that John would love it. While Nancy left it in the hands of a couple of coaches, she was looking for nothing more than to know that kids in Bethlehem got a nice gift from John. The coaches wanted John's memory to last for years to come. John touched so many lives and it seemed only fair that he keep touching them. The best place for that to happen was on the diamond.
After a few brainstorms and some people finding out that this was about John Stevenson, a batting cage project begun. One of the first calls was to Moe Caswell of Round Hill Fence in Vermont. Moe was raised in Bethlehem. When Moe was asked about the possibility of doing this and whether it was feasible, Moe didn't listen to dollar talk. Moe said that he was taught how to play baseball by John and "we can make this happen". A Springtime gathering at the Elm Street fields took place and things began to happen.
Rod Marvin and Road Agent, Brett Jackson looked at the site and Rod had his team down there in no time and the site was ready. Brett's crew came in and completed phase two. Moe monitored the progress and checked in with the coaches. He was so impressed with the dedication from Rod and Brett. Now came the volunteers on the first weekend. Dick Robie, Moe Caswell, Chad Pelotte, Derek Brown, Brett Jackson, John Robie, Doug Laleme, Bill Brusseau and Jordan Brusseau poured the footings one weekend followed by another weekend of building the cage that Moe had brought.
The cage was finished just in time for the end of the season All Stars. With just a few more things to be added to the area, Bethlehem now has a batting cage for youth to use for many years to come. As coaches toured the cage with their players, those that knew John were pretty sure that they heard the mountains roar.... "Play Ball, Bethlehem."
Thank you, John.... we miss you!