Here’s how much Fred Crabtree loved baseball: While stationed in Okinawa during World War II, he would build a baseball diamond for his fellow soldiers. Each night, the Japanese would bomb it. Each day, Crabtree would rebuild it.
Here’s how much Fred Crabtree loved baseball, part 2: He volunteered with the Vienna Little League for 50 years. Fifty. Coached. Ran the league. Cut the grass. Did everything at one time or another.
Here’s how much Fred Crabtree contributed to everyone who lives in or near Fairfax County: From 1969 to 1992, when he was on the board of the Fairfax County Park Authority, he was instrumental in acquiring Fox Mill District Park, Peterson Lane Park, Nottoway Park, Frying Pan Park, Clarks Crossing Park, Floris School site, Baron Cameron Park, Lahey Lost Valley Park, Lake Fairfax Park and many others. That’s a legacy.
In 2006, the county park authority broke with policy and renamed Fox Mill Park in Reston “Fred Crabtree Park.” Crabtree, then a mere 90, said, “It makes me so happy. It really does. You feel like you accomplished something, and I know that I have.”
Crabtree died last Sunday at age 96, leaving behind dozens of relatives and thousands of admirers among baseball and recreation enthusiasts of Northern Virginia in the last half-century. Park Authority Chairman William Bouie wrote a great tribute to Crabtree which you should read here, and the Fairfax County Times profiled him in 2010, readable here.
So long Mr. Baseball. Thanks for all our parks.