Words were in short supply Friday despite the crowd that gathered at the Harlem Recreation Park to dedicate Field II to Andrew Hawkinberry.
Silence reigned as Mayor Scott Dean welcomed the crowd and Clifford Hintz gave an emotional a cappella rendition of Amazing Grace to honor the 8-year-old.
Andrew was killed in a car wreck on Interstate 20 in Warren County while traveling with his family to see his older brother, Michael, play football for the Harlem Bulldogs. A tractor trailer knocked their vehicle into the path of two oncoming semis, his mother said.
The ceremony included unveiling a stone marker at the field, which Andrew and his 8- and 9-year-old team, the Red Sox, considered their home field.
Dave Thompson was one of Andrew's coaches in Columbia County Recreation Department baseball for three years.
The Red Sox team looks on as the monument is dedicated to Andrew Hawkinberry.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
"Kids are always wanting to be a part of something. Thank God for this baseball team and thank God He gave me the chance to teach (Andrew)," Thompson said before the tears began. "This is so fitting, not just the baseball field, but of Harlem. We will never forget him."
Andrew's family, emotional in the front row, all agreed that Andrew would have enjoyed having a baseball field named after him. Andrew followed in the athletic steps of Michael, 18, who returned from his senior trip to Florida a few days early to attend the dedication.
"He was a special little boy that captured everybody's hearts," said Andrew's father, Raymond, who also said the family received condolences from throughout the area regarding how the North Harlem Elementary third-grader affected so many lives.
The family stayed to watch the Red Sox; coach Thompson says they carry the same name this year by no accident. Each member wears Andrew's No. 7 on their hats in his memory. Kelly Hawkinberry, Andrew's mother, hugged each player after the ceremony before they headed out to christen his field.
"If I have to stay here and cry the whole game, I had better see some bats swinging," she told a few during warm-up.
Kelly Hawkinberry, next to her son Michael, hugs her Red Sox member Logan May, after the Harlem Recxreation Park's field II was dedicated to her son, Andrew, who was killed in September in a car wreck.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
After Andrew's 10-year-old brother, Nick, threw the first pitch and the Red Sox broke their pre-game huddle with the typical "Little Hawk!" rally cry, the team was ready to win the game against the Angels from Martinez and Evans.
A.J. Rintz, 9, who played with Andrew at second base for two years, was ready with practice and confidence, he said, as the first batter of the game.
"It is (Andrew's) field and our field," A.J. said.
The Red Sox line-up went on to score six runs, the limit for the inning, with two in-the-park homers by Dalton Snellings, 9, and Jesse Davis, 8. The team won the first game on the dedicated field 15-6 and will head on to the tournament next week.
Andrew's marker will forever be a reminder of him and his glory as the Red Sox second baseman.
"This is what community is all about," Dean said. "We will never forget and this is just a small way we can remember. We will never forget Little Hawk."
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