Bazinsky Field is back in business|[06/27/08]

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2008

There are a few lingering reminders of the April storm that damaged Bazinsky Field.

One part of a support pole still sticks in the ground, snapped in half from high winds. Another part rests under the bleachers, tucked away as a ghastly souvenir. And a couple of baseballs have been left on the field, seemingly abandoned. The lack of action these days has little to do with the storm, though, and more with the lazy days of summer. Bazinsky Field is open for business again after a six-week repair job.

“It’s good to be able to be back there playing and not scramble to find somewhere else to play,” said St. Aloysius coach Clint Wilkerson.

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The April storm damaged the press box, lights, windscreens and foul poles, and turned the chain-link backstop into a pile of twisted metal. The mess remained untouched for weeks, forcing St. Al and Vicksburg High to play home games at Warren Central for the final month of the regular season and the playoffs. Repairs were finally completed in late May, allowing St. Al and Vicksburg to play summer league games at their regular home park.

Most of the new touches are hard to spot, with the exception of one. The old fence-like backstop was replaced with a net that should provide better visibility, Vicksburg Parks and Recreation director Joe Graves said. The net is slightly lower than the old backstop – 21 feet, compared to about 27 for the backstop. It will also provide a safer environment if another storm hits. The old backstop was brought down when the pole supporting its guide wires snapped into three pieces. With no anchor point, the tall fence collapsed under its own weight.

“That’ll be permanent. You can see a lot better through it than you can through the fence,” Graves said. “The net is a lot easier to work with. You can get it down if you need to.”

Graves said other renovations to Bazinsky were passed up in favor of getting the field ready for the summer high school season and youth tournaments. A concrete or brick backstop, for example, would have taken too long to put up.

“That would’ve been a major project and we still wouldn’t have been using it if we had done that. This was a quick fix to get it ready,” Graves said.

While the summer high school season is drawing to a close, Bazinsky may not have another of its regular tenants. The Vicksburg Adult Baseball League, which has been run by the city the last four years, is woefully short on numbers, Graves said. Instead of the eight teams that have played in past years, only two have registered this summer. The season is scheduled to start July 1, and unless at least two more teams can be found it will likely be canceled.

Graves attributed the decline to a core group of 20-something players that has grown older.

“There’s so many people in that age group with families now. Their time does not permit it sometimes,” Graves said.