SPRINGFIELD – The creation of a new field of dreams is underway at Springfield College.
Baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is partnering with Springfield College to jointly design a one-of-a-kind intercollegiate and adaptive baseball park on the Springfield College campus. Construction began on April 27.
Springfield College President Mary-Beth A. Cooper, Ripken, and foundation board chair Mark Butler signed the partnership agreement during the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation board meeting at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel back in December.
“We at Springfield College feel privileged to work with Cal Ripken and the foundation to build a field that will serve our intercollegiate baseball team, as well as the greater Springfield community, including those with disabilities,” said Cooper.
Youth athletes from the Miracle League, Special Olympics, and local baseball programs are expected to benefit from the renovation of the college’s Berry-Allen Field, which was opened in 1939 and has only seen regular maintenance in the intervening years.
“We have partnered with the Miracle League of Western Massachusetts who will use the adaptive field for its fall and spring leagues. We look forward to both the adaptive and intercollegiate diamond being utilized by other baseball organizations and schools. Part of our mission, we continue to look forward to making a difference in our community,” Springfield College Athletic Director Craig Poisson said.
“As a foundation, we are always striving to create opportunities for youth to excel not just on the playing field, but in the game of life. We are proud to work together with Springfield College to develop a multifunctional field that will not only benefit its student-athletes, but provide a safe place for local community members of all abilities to play, learn and grow,” added Butler.
The first of its kind, this project will incorporate a new adaptive field within a new traditional field when the existing Springfield College team baseball diamond is replaced. Referred to as “The Springfield Model” by the foundation, the new facilities will include an artificial turf field, bullpens, and batting cages; installation of a new grandstand and press box; and a new scoreboard, sound system, and sports lighting system that will serve both the adaptive and the Springfield College team fields. Renovations will also include broadcasting capabilities and landscaping.
The target date for completion of the new field is Sept. 1. The College has already received financial commitments to help support the project. However, it will seek additional assistance from friends of the College and alumni.
According to Poisson, demolition of the old facility will be followed by site development and then the construction of the intercollegiate diamond. Next will be the construction of the adaptive diamond and then the overall turf installation.
Poisson also touched upon what led Springfield College to ultimately choose the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.
“When we first launched this initiative, we had identified several organizations for this important partnership. The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation immediately rose to the top, mainly due to the quality organization that it is, but also because its mission directly aligns with ours – educating the whole person in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others,” Poisson said.
“We are viewing the facility as a lab setting for students in select majors. We intend to engage our rehabilitation studies and sport management majors in particular as users of the lab setting, interfacing with participants that populate the adaptive field and having a role in the management of the facility.”
In addition to the community as well as the Springfield College student body, the baseball team will also reap the reward of a new field.
“The Springfield College baseball student-athletes, coaches and support staff are thrilled to have an opportunity to compete on a brand new, state-of-the-art baseball facility come the fall of 2017. The new field will pave the way for our storied baseball program to reach new heights, as we are more than excited to be able to foster a first-class student-athlete experience at Springfield College," Springfield College baseball coach Mark Simeone said.
The field is named for two long-time Springfield College baseball coaches. Elmer Berry was a prominent physical education teacher at Springfield College who served as head coach from 1915-1926, and Archie Allen was head coach for 31 seasons from 1948-1978 and coached the U.S. Pan American Games team to a silver medal in 1963.