Burtsfield’s dedication to the complex began in 1983 when he, along with a group of legion baseball supporters, launched planning efforts for what is now the American Legion Baseball facility. He retains meeting notes from those early efforts and has continuously served the effort to build, improve and maintain that facility.
“Clayton stands as an exemplary role model for many,” Parks and Trails Advisory Board member Bill Dahlgren said. “He was the official ‘note taker’ at the earliest meetings to move the Legion Baseball complex to its current location at Big Sky Park. He has done so much to advance the dreams of a first-rate baseball complex. Last summer the Mavs even dedicated their new indoor practice building as ‘The Clayton Burtsfield Warehouse.’ Now he’s receiving this added recognition, both well-deserved. We’re all lucky to have community volunteers like Clayton working to make Missoula a better place.”
During the last four decades, Burtsfield has served in multiple volunteer roles to advocate for and advance the facility: organizing committee secretary, shovel-in-hand facility builder (from Day One), American Legion Post No. 27 baseball committee member, more than 25 years as the Northwest Regional American Legion A Baseball Tournament chair, Missoula Mavericks’ Big Sky Park Stewardship Committee representative, groundskeeper at the legion baseball facility and likely many roles not listed.
A lease agreement was drawn up between the American Legion and Missoula County in 1984, at which time construction of the current facility began. The first legion baseball game was played at the site in June 1987. Big Sky Park’s playing facility is recognized as one of the finest in the Northwest. The complex was developed with private funds and is worth approximately $1.5 million.
Big Sky Park spans 154-acres in the Target Range neighborhood, making it Missoula County’s largest park. Its amenities include baseball/softball fields, a community garden, competition-level equestrian facilities, natural surface trails and bird habitat. It is a cherished community resource that draws users from the entire Missoula Valley.
A list of Steward Award recipients (2003 to 2020) is available on the Parks, Trails and Open Lands website.