Sunday, August 22, 2004

Dads go to bat for ballfield


$75,000 needed at Loveland High

By Sheila McLaughlin
Enquirer staff writer

LOVELAND - Two years ago, Jason Christian stood at Ross High School's baseball field in Butler County for the first time.

The high school rookie, now a 17-year-old pitcher and shortstop, was struck by his surroundings.

Players and fans stood facing the flag and sang along with the National Anthem blaring from a public address system.

"He looked at me and said, 'Dad, if Ross can have something like this, why can't we?' " John Christian said.

A year later, after endless discussions on the bleachers while watching their sons play, Christian and fellow baseball parent Tom Rosenbaum came up with the answer.

" 'Why can't we?' became 'Maybe we can,' " Christian said.

Now Christian and Rosenbaum are leading a campaign to upgrade Loveland High School's spartan baseball field with the help of a committed group of baseball parents who are raising $75,000 to make it a mini-stadium.

For the first time, players' names will be broadcast as they take the field, and spectators will get play-by-play announcements from a press box built atop a new concession stand. Fans from home and opposing teams won't have to share a lone bleacher behind the backstop when seating is expanded and separated. Dugouts will be extended and the chain link backstop will come down in favor of a shorter brick wall.

He and Christian have loaned start-up money for the project while the parent group raises money. A fund-raising event is planned Nov. 20 - a roast for the amateur Midland Redskins owner Joe Hayden, who has devoted his life to the game and has seen about three dozen major leaguers, including Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin, pass through his team.

"By the time they are done with this, this will be the nicest baseball facility in Cincinnati for high school baseball," said Dave Evans, who retired two years ago after 25 years as the Loveland coach and continues to work with the Midland team. The Loveland field is named after him.

District business manager John Ames said Loveland schools aren't contributing for now because it's not in the budget. However, school board members have approved it, and the district's architect helped coordinate the plan.

Symmes Township officials still have to sign off on the expansion following a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday at the administration building on Union Cemetery Road.

See plans online

Information should be available in about a week at www.lovelandschools.onlinecommunity.com.

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E-mail smclaughlin@enquirer.com




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