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If you build it: Worthington baseball fans still pitching to improve ballfield

The Worthington baseball field on the west side of town has undergone several changes in recent years. If more funds are raised, there will be more to come.

The new press box, bleachers and picnic tables at the  high school baseball field on the west side of town are shown. More improvements may be forthcoming.
The new press box, bleachers and picnic tables at the high school baseball field on the west side of town are shown. More improvements may be forthcoming.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON -- All over southwest Minnesota, sparkling diamonds twinkle and shine.

Baseball diamonds, that is. They are sources of community pride in the towns of Windom, Luverne and Milroy, just to name a few.

In contrast, Worthington’s main ball field located on the west side of town has undergone important improvements in recent years, but not enough, according to a group of civic-minded baseball fans who hope to see the field take its place among the best of the best.

School District 518 high school Baseball field located at the Worthington Middle school.
The Worthington baseball field on the west side of town near the middle school features high school, American Legion and amateur games.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Jason Turner is the chairman of WAYBA (Worthington Area Youth Baseball Association) and he leads a fundraising effort to continue with ballpark upgrades.

“As we go around to these other fields, it’s like, ‘Why can’t Worthington have something cool like these other fields?” Turner said. “Our goal is to create some unique features that make (our field) not only a cool ball field to play on, but also a cool field at which to attend games.”

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Spectators have already become familiar with a new vendor kiosk and plaza, with picnic tables and umbrellas. The infield and outfield areas are a healthy, well-manicured green.

But that’s just for starters. Next steps include steel shade covers over the stands and an elevated deck over the third-base dugout, plus a new back stop and netting system. There are also plans for an outfield berm and viewing area, and group seating rooms in left field.

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The fundraising goal is $150,000. Approximately one-third of that has already been raised.

For more information, baseball fans can go online at www.worthingtonyouthbaseball.com . Donations can be made online.

Sponsorship levels are listed on the website, but any amount is welcomed. An encouraging message on the site reads, “Each contribution has a direct impact on our efforts to increase participation, to build awareness of baseball, to provide programs that allow people to access the sport, and to enrich players’ experiences.”

To Turner, continued Worthington ballpark improvements work on a variety of levels, giving the city one more treasure while it also excites more young people to play ball. There are so many other options that pull people away from social interaction, Turner said, and a beautiful and enticing ballpark serves as one important antidote.

Today’s push for donations can get the new round of improvements under way soon.

“We’re trying to get moving with it before this (summer) season is completed,” said Turner.

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The steel structure figures to be the next step. It would provide weather protection and also shield fans from those super-hot 95-degree days that we’ve had recently.

The elevated deck project can come next, which would turn the top of the third-base dugout into a spectator option. The covering would extend a little bit back from the existing top-deck area.

The proposed new seating area down the left-field line offers a new vantage point for fans. And the same idea holds true for the berm plan, which would give fans better views from beyond the left-field fence.

The fund-raising group also hopes to replace the chain-link fencing behind home plate with netting that would extend higher than the existing chain fence.

Turner said civic-minded projects in Worthington are gaining momentum these days.

“There’s some positive vibes going on,” he concluded. “And we need that also in baseball.”

Related Topics: BASEBALL
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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