Build the baseball stadium – The Parthenon

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Growing up, there was nothing quite like going to a Bluefield Orioles game at Bowen Field. For just a few dollars, my grandpa and I would watch a bunch of guys fight for their chance to get out of Single A rookie league baseball. A few friends and I would chase baseballs in parking lots, risking our lives. as if we were playing frog for the chance to get the batter to sign the ball after the game.

I remember sitting in the grass just past the center field wall, waiting for a ball to fall, literally, into my lap. It was a master plan. I remember looking up quickly from the blades of grass I was dissecting when I heard a loud crack followed by a roar from the other side of the wall. Jumping to my feet, I looked up as a baseball dropped into the grass near right field. I ran over and put it in my glove. That’s how I got my first baseball.

When I came to Marshall, I signed up to do sports broadcasting with WMUL-FM. I didn’t see my first time behind a microphone until baseball season, a time with many opportunities due to the large number of games in a week. I had my first game in March 2019, a 25-3 Marshall win over Eastern Michigan.

The Marshall baseball team plays at Kennedy Center Field, a field located approximately 20 minutes from campus. Because I didn’t have a car, I was driven to the field by Nick Verzolini, a former Marshall reporter, and dropped off in a way that I can best describe as your first day of school.

I remember kicking rocks and throwing pebbles into mud holes after games while sitting on a crate aptly named “Big Bertha”. Eventually, Nick would pick me up. These are the memories I have of Kennedy Center Field. I doubt many people have them.

47 people came to Marshall’s home opener this season.

Forty-seven.

Marshall has had matches in which his dugout has outnumbered the fans in attendance.

Marshall University’s top brass don’t care about growing their baseball program. They did nothing to prove me wrong. I want someone to prove me wrong.

I doubt the guy who hit my first pitch made it to the big leagues. If he did, I don’t know his name and he probably doesn’t remember the Bluefield Orioles. I don’t have that ball either. My brother and I lost it in the creek near my childhood home in an attempt to replicate how it found us.

Marshall men’s soccer’s immaculate run en route to a championship has been fueled primarily by talent and training. While fans certainly play a part, only 400 people attended an alumni appreciation-themed men’s football game in 2018. By comparison, 3,033 people came to Marshall’s game against WVU last season. after a national championship, packed like sardines at Hoops Family Field.

The Herd men’s soccer team rarely had significant levels of support before they struck gold, and even when they weren’t successful, they had 10 times as many fans as baseball currently has.

What must the baseball team do to earn Marshall’s attention?

Marshall baseball players are regularly drafted into the MLB Draft. As recently as the 2021 season, the Marshall alumni made their MLB debut. The program is not “failed” or “failed”. Marshall is producing casual MLB talent on a field that has no lights.

A few Google searches will help you find that there are less than 40 off-campus baseball diamonds in Division 1 baseball. There are 299 Division 1 programs across the country. Marshall’s YMCA Field is perhaps the smallest of these off-campus fields used in the entirety of Division 1.

The smaller facilities used in the Sun Belt have a capacity of 1,000 fans but have seen attendances as high as 5,000. That’s about a hundred times larger than any crowd Marshall has had this season.

Marshall is a school that is making progress in athletics. With a new football coach, a new conference and a new sporting director, the Herd shows its desire to progress and improve. However, with one of the lowest level baseball facilities in the country, it’s impossible for me to buy into that line of thinking.

When the Bluefield Orioles became the Bluefield Blue Jays, attendance dipped a bit. I was a bit of an adult then, watching those games at Bowen Field from the foul line instead of behind that wall in the outfield.

All seats were painted Toronto Blue. Paint has peeled off the edges of some seats to give that sense of Orioles pride the city once had, but the Blue Jays became a staple until the Appalachian league stopped being a rookie league . My strategy was a little different for getting baseballs. I just asked the guys for one when they came back from the outfield warm-up.

In a place like Bowen Field stood a rookie talent at home plate in 2016, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He once hit a foul ball towards where I was sitting. I asked the ball boy if I could have it and he threw it at me. I also lost that ball in the creek.

Without a small pitch in my hometown, the former free agent rookie turned MLB leader might have been left in the dust. College baseball provides these same types of sparks to ignite. I want a child in Huntington to have the memories I had in Bluefield.

Build the baseball stadium. May sparks fly in Huntington.

This editorial was written by Tyler Kennett – The Parthenon Sports Editor.

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