The bare-dirt ballfield abraded the knees, forearms and elbows of anyone reckless enough to slide into a contested base.
Self-described “Butte rats” like Padraig “Paddy” Cunneen knew this truth.
“If you could not steal a base standing up you did not steal,” Cunneen said Thursday during a gathering at the Butte Civic Center.
Decades after his baseball days, when remediation of historic mining and smelting pollution was underway, Cunneen learned why the field was so dang hard. It had been built atop poured slag from the former Parrot Smelter.
A Thursday evening gathering at the Butte Civic Center celebrated the completion by the state’s Natural Resource Damage Program of the Parrot Tailings project, a milestone lauded as a victory for the community of Butte-Silver Bow County and the region. The event included a ribbon cutting to mark plans to reopen of the Civic Center Road, which was closed due to the remediation work. From left, J. P. Gallagher, chief executive of Butte-Silver Bow County, Jim Ford, NRDP’s project manager for the site, Pat Cunneen, NRDP, and Elizabeth Erickson of the Butte Natural Resource Damage Restoration Council.