I have watched several baseball games at Dow James Field in Tooele during the high school and summer league seasons. It was a comment from the coach of a visiting team that finally pushed me to write this letter.
I am appalled at the current condition of the Dow James Field. The outfield grass is completely dead in many spots, and the areas that aren’t yet dead, look like a hay field, with windrows of dead grass piled on top of the “green” grass, just waiting to kill it. The infield is another story completely. It looks like the landscape from the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Potholes in the grass portion and dirt portion turn trying to field a ground ball into an exercise of self-preservation. Skill in fielding a baseball has been completely replaced by luck.
In seeing the condition of the field, I remembered back to the time we all helped build it. It was the spring/summer of my sophomore year at Grantsville High. All the players, and their fathers, spent countless hours raking and shoveling mountains of rocks and debris from this site of a former garbage dump, while under the expert direction of Angelo Cerroni. Ang was the American Legion coach for many years and we put our blood, sweat and tears into building something everyone in Tooele County could be proud of. It was Angelo’s baby, and he spent more hours than anyone to ensure this would be a top-notch baseball field. It is disappointing to see the field revert to it’s former use, rather than the beautiful gem it was for many years.
I am saddened at the neglect that has gone on for several years, as I’m certain the current condition did not happen in one year’s time. I am saddened that the current administration of Tooele City and Tooele High School cannot reach an accord whereby employees of both entities provide man hours and equipment to care for the field.
I know first-hand, the current baseball coaching staff tried to maintain/mow the field during the high school season, but their efforts were rebuffed by the city, and they were told their efforts were not welcomed, or allowed. But, most of all, I’m saddened by the comments a visiting coach made to his team at a recent game. After his team had taken their pre-game infield practice, and were waiting for Tooele to finish their warm-ups, this coach turned to his players and said: “I am sorry I scheduled this game. I am so sorry you, and your parents, had to come all the way out here to play on this piece of #$%& field. But, it wasn’t always this way. When I was playing in high school and American Legion, this field was the best in the entire state. Every team in Utah hoped they would get the chance to play on this field. It was the closest thing most of us would ever get to playing on a major league field. I had no idea they have let it go like this. This is the last time we’ll ever come out here. I wonder what happened?”
So, do I, coach. So do I.