Play ball: New baseball field dedicated

Crack of the bat heard again, as new field is dedicated

By Todd Milles

To the schedule-makers and other schools in the Northwest Conference, it’s officially West Field. To the Puget Sound, ball-players it's a field of dreams.

The university dedicated its new baseball field, two years in the making at North 11th Street and Union Avenue, in a ceremony March 24.

Former Puget Sound baseball coach Brad Cheney ’82 and Ted Atkinson, of Wentworth and Company, the primary building contractor for the facility, threw out the first pitches before the Loggers squared off with the University of British Columbia (a game UPS won 10-5).

It was the fourth game played on the field: Puget Sound hosted a weekend tournament against conference foes during spring break.

In the two years since construction began, contractors raised the level of the Memorial Fieldhouse parking lot to create space, put in drainage, then filled the field out with a sand/sawdust mixture and seeded it. Trees were planted beside the field and dugouts and fences were built.

Athletic Director Ulrich estimated the cost of the project at $1 million.

The new field became a reality when campus administrators decided in 1998 to build Wyatt Hall, the new academic building, just north of Baker Stadium. The old baseball field was in the path of construction.

The big drawback with the old field was poor drainage. From January to March, Puget Sound baseball coach Ken Garland estimated, his team could practice outside "two percent of the time."

That workout rate on the new field has gone up to 70 percent, Garland said.

The new field got a big test last weekend. In the midst of a Saturday downpour, the club was able to play a seven-inning game. That wouldn't have happened in years past.

"The outfield area doesn't get soft," Garland said. "As soon as it stops raining, it's ready to go."

Garland said the field drains so well that the new concern is maintaining a sufficient water supply for the grass.

The infield, particularly the mound and home plate area, got the most attention. The dirt is a Santana mix, the same used at Safeco Field and Cheney Stadium. Players and coaches are responsible for maintenance, including spreading a new tarp over the field when it rains.