EAST PROVIDENCE — Many firmly believe that the grass is always greener on the other side. Talk to East Providence groundskeeper extraordinaire Joe Medeiros and he’ll prove to you, unequivocally, that at Pierce Memorial Stadium the grass is greener no matter where you look.
Long-regarded as one of the best facilities of its type, not only in the East Bay area but throughout the state, Pierce Field, to many, has no equal.
Joe Medeiros hates being in the spotlight. But the fact remains, thanks to his dedication and expertise as manager as Pierce Field manager, no one can compare with the man’s meticulous approach to his groundskeeper duties. He does, however, credit many of his fellow City of East Providence recreation department staff members for helping make his job that much easier and enjoyable.
“I could never do what I do here if it wasn’t for them,” he said. “These people have been great. They’re very accommodating and supportive of what I do. Not only that, but they’ve taken the initiative in their respective areas to make the entire East Providence Recreation Department something to be proud of.”
Joe Medeiros is an East Providence Townie through and through. A native of the city, he graduated from East Providence High School in 1975 and since 1991 has served admirably as Pierce Field manager. He is also works at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket to help out on game days and to get the field prepped at night.
“This has been a dream job for me,” the 55-year-old said of his work at Pierce Field. “No two days are alike. There’s always something different going on. This facility serves many teams.”
Aside from East Providence High School varsity soccer, football, baseball and girls’ softball games, Pierce Field also serves many youth and amateur leagues. In addition, Johnson and Wales University uses the field for its women’s and men’s soccer games, baseball and women’s softball games.
“There’s a lot of stuff going on here,” said Mr. Medeiros. “We also host the annual Heritage Festival here in July. This was the 32nd year for the festival this year. That’s our biggest event.”
The American Cancer Society also holds its “Relay for Life” at Pierce Field, and the Jamie Silva Football Camp is conducted there.
According to City of East Providence historical records, Pierce Memorial Stadium opened to the public on Nov. 30, 1939, in time for the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game between East Providence and La Salle Academy. It marked the official dedication of the field with an estimated 8,500 fans in attendance.
‘The Babe,’ Ted Williams hit here
In 1941, Pierce Stadium was the site of two baseball hitting exhibitions — one by former New York Yankees home run king Babe Ruth on Sept. 2, the other by Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams the following day.
Since 1939, Pierce Field has been the site of numerous and varied recreational events including rodeo and circus shows, boxing events, professional soccer and Independence Day fireworks displays. The field is named for W. B. Pierce, one of East Providence’s most prominent citizens who had bequeathed a trust fund to the town specifically for recreational use.
For several years, Pierce Field was the site of the annual Rhode Island Matadors Invitational, a drum and bugle corps competition, first sponsored by the Rhode Island Matadors Senior Drum and Bugle Corps. Later, the Generations Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps used Pierce Field for its Ocean State Classic competition.
“Pierce Field was one of the best facilities of its kind for our drum corps shows,” said Michael “Red” Corso, Matadors founder and director. “It was always in top-notch condition, and all the visiting corps used to comment on how well kept the field was. It was a pleasure to compete here. Joe deserves a tremendous amount of credit for getting and keeping this field in the shape that it’s in.”
As Mr. Medeiros said, the success and effectiveness of the Pierce Field Athletic Complex falls directly on the shoulders of department staff members. They include Alba Curti, director of parks and recreation; Michael Bartlett, assistant superintendent of parks; Diane Sullivan, recreation center coordinator; Deborah Rochford, adult services coordinator; Rebecca Chace, recreation center supervisor; and the administrative assistants and secretary.
“This is a complete team effort,” said Mr. Medeiros. “All of these people are so important to what we do here. Everyone is phenomenal.”
Alba Curti put it all in proper perspective.
“I would have to say that East Providence’s Pierce Athletic Complex would not be one of the best regional facilities without the dedication of Joe Medeiros,” she said. “Joe always gives 200 percent to his position as facilities manager that he has held since 1991. Turf management is a year-round job controlled by climate and expertise in irrigation, grass types and soil nutrients. In widely used athletic complexes such as Pierce, turf is key to player safety because it eliminates dust, breaks falls and prevents erosion. It takes years of experience and skill to strike the proper balance and achieve the excellent results visible throughout the complex. Joe Medeiros possesses all of these attributes. Moreover he is a great ambassador for the Parks and Recreation Department in his ability to diplomatically handle any user concerns.”
The Pierce Field Athletic Complex is open to the public year-round with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s Day. Tennis and basketball courts are available with lighting provided until 9:30 p.m. from mid-April to mid-November. The rubberized walking track is open Monday to Friday from 7:15 a.m. to dusk, and 8 a.m. to dusk on weekends.
“Like I said,” Mr. Medeiros said, “I love what I do. It’s difficult to get out of bed in the morning and go to a job you don’t want to go to. That’s not the case here. I grew up around here and played on most of these fields. Now, to be able to take care of Pierce Field over these last 20 years has been the greatest experience for me. It’s like I never left home.”