KALIDA – The four shovels driven into the marble floor for a groundbreaking ceremony and earthmoving equipment parked in the central field of the Holy Name Ballpark in Kalida on Monday morning said updates and changes were pending. come and that they would arrive soon.
But first, memories of the stadium’s first 72 years, the people who played there and the people who watched the matches from its historic stand shared the day with a look to the future and what a renovation will bring. of $ 2 million.
The first phase of the project will begin immediately with the installation of a turf infield and a new turf outfield, which should be ready for the 2022 high school baseball season.
Phase two will begin with the preservation of the original structural framework but the installation of new seats, new lighting, new concession stands, an observation deck and a new exterior finish. The second part of phase two will improve the area around the stadium, including adding concrete parking and exhibits on the history of the stadium.
Holy Name Ballpark, named after the Holy Name Society of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, was built for $ 10,000 in 1949.
It is the home of the Kalida High School baseball team. But during its lifetime it has also hosted adult baseball games, professional athletic teams, baseball legend Satchel Paige and the Negro League, women’s professional baseball and even professional wrestling teams, the ring apparently being installed near home plate.
Including Father Mark Hoying’s opening prayer, 10 speakers spoke about the future and past of Holy Name Ballpark before the ceremonial earth was dug and dumped.
Former major league pitcher Gene Stechschulte, who recalled the thrill of switching to the ‘big diamond’ of a youth diamond, said: “It’s a special place. It’s a special day for Kalida.
Current Kalida baseball coach Chad Ehrnsberger said, âI’m really excited. We’re going to have something special here. This installation is going to be something that everyone is proud of.
The stadium makeover was designed by Brick Street Studio, the Ottawa architectural firm of Jeff Krouse, a Kalida High School graduate who played baseball for the Wildcats.
Thus, the history of the park and the history behind it were taken into account at every step of the process.
âWe will keep the columns and the rafters. In this way, the original bones of the building, the original historic form are there. And then we’re going to put a whole new roof and a whole new siding on it. We will also be installing new seats and a brand new concession stand. But the original infrastructure will be intact, âKrouse said.
He said his ties to Kalida and Holy Name Ballpark made it a special project for him.
âWhen you design a building from scratch it’s one thing, and it’s clearly nice, but when you have all of these historical stories and events that have taken place and you can kind of build the design around it. that too is really rewarding, âhe said.
Joe Recker, a member of the Holy Name Ballpark Committee who served as Kalida’s baseball coach from 2014 to 2019, was one of the first people to come up with the idea of ââupdating the stadium when he was coaching.
âI was just looking for a grass infield and buying new tiles, but I didn’t have a lot of traction at the time. But I continued to harass. I am very persistent. We have the right people and the right involvement. God bless the Kalida school board. They jumped on board and gave us a little financial boost to help us take the plunge. I’m just a tiny cog in this machine, âRecker said.
âThis will be the best state-of-the-art facility that we can provide to this community,â he said.
Completing the project will require more fundraising, which Recker believes has been accomplished.
âThis community is mobilized around projects,â he says. Donations can be made online at kalidabaseball.org or through the Kalida Holy Name Ballpark account at Union Bank in Kalida.
Planned updates to the Holy Name Ballpark in Kalida are featured in this artist’s render.
Left to right: Joe Recker, Karl Lammers, Jeff Krouse and Roger Hanneman dig the first shovelfuls of dirt during the groundbreaking ceremony for a $ 2 million update to Saint Michael’s Holy Name Stadium in Kalida on Monday .