Field of Dreams: WSN baseball field seeing changes
“If you build it, they will come” is the famous line from the 1989 Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams.”
For W.S. Neal head baseball coach Coy Campbell and his Eagle baseball team, a field of dreams is starting to become a reality.
Campbell and his team are in the process of a major renovation to Blue Eagle field on the campus of W.S. Neal in East Brewton.
Campbell, who will be starting his 10th season with the Eagles this baseball season, said every year since he has been at W.S. Neal, the school has tried to do some kind of upgrade to the field.
“When I first got here, the dugouts were fenced in completely and we ended up taking the front fence off and opening it up,” Campbell said. “A year or two later, we extended the home dugout and the visiting dugout to make it a little wider. We paint the bleachers every year and the concession stand. Each year we have done something different. I wish now that I would have taken pictures of what we have done until now. It is just tremendous.”
Campbell said the changes to the field is contributed to all the people who have put money into the program.
“The community, all the people who have helped work,” Campbell said. “Me being here does not matter. They are the ones who have done it mostly for their kids. There have been good parents and kids that have come through this program. It is a tribute to them, not me.”
The current renovations to the field have been made available financially by many donations Campbell said.
“The Neals, Marc Keahey, Southern Pine, and the community.” Campbell said. “All that is very much appreciated. Our program is going to benefit many kids. This is something that needed to be done and a lot of people will be reaping the benefits when this is done. I think, and I am biased, this facility will be one of the finest facilities in south Alabama.”
Some of the current renovations started last season for the Eagles with the old Buddy Taylor Memorial football stadium press box being moved from the football field to serve as a press box and concession stand at the baseball field.
“Mr. Hines and the school board helped with that,” Campbell said. “They had the old press box and they moved it here and we used it last year. This year, we are renovating the inside to use upstairs as a press box and downstairs as a concession stand. Mr. Hines and the school board have also been a great help to our program as well as the others.”
Along with the press box changes this year and last year, other changes are being made to the field.
“We have the new wall backstop going from dugout to dugout,” Campbell said. “We have bleachers, some are the old bleachers from the old stadium that was tore down. There are some bleachers we moved over here with cranes. We are going to set them, pressure wash, and paint them. We are going to set them on the blocks that go eight foot high on both home and visitors. The school board just OK’d new lighting here at our facility that has been needed. That will be first class as well.”
Campbell said a new backstop net will be going up as well along with some changes to the home dugout.
“We plan on blocking up our home dugout this year,” Campbell said. “We are going to use the same blocks from the new wall. We will also add a new room on the back for our kids to dress and have a restroom facility in there. That will benefit everyone here and I am very appreciative to everyone who has helped make this happen.”
The fence from the old backstop will be used to make a new visitor bullpen area on their side of the field Campbell said.
“That is in the plans to build it so that there will be more than one area just on the home side,” Campbell said. “That will be beneficial to the visitors coming in instead of them having to come to our side. We will have gate access from there to the field. We will also have a new sound system here at the park. That will allow us to have microphones for the tournaments we have. We have tournaments every year with our annual varsity and JV tournaments that we are having again this year along with a seventh and eighth grade tournament.”
Campbell said that will make three programs playing almost 70 games.
“That is 18 for seventh and eighth graders, 17 for the JV and almost 30 for the varsity,” Campbell said. “Every program starts with the youth so you have to start from down there to get us successful when they get to me at the varsity level.”
Campbell said he hopes the renovations will be done by baseball season in late winter early spring.
“The wall is complete,” Campbell said. “We (had a Diamond Club meeting Tuesday night) and we will see where our funding is and our next plan is to start on the home dugout and locker room on the back side and go from there. We are looking at the first of the year. Our season starts in February. The lighting company has to have the lights up 90 days after their bid. They have been here. Nothing has been done yet, but they are out of town and once the process starts, I am sure it will be quick. It is the same lights like Flomaton’s football lights.”
With Campbell’s 10th year approaching he says to see the field evolve to the changes that are being made now is special.
“For me to be here 10 years now, to see the changes coming full circle is special,” Campbell said. “It shows the hardwork we have put in here. You have to start somewhere. A lot of former players said they wished it looked this nice when they played here. But it is not about me. It’s about and for the kids. They are the ones who deserve it. I have just been here to reap the benefits.”
Campbell said he would like to thank Howard Joyner and Allen Settle for all their hard work.
“They have helped do so much to the field,” Campbell said. “Howard has been out here everyday. It is really nice to have their help along with Steve Blackman, our Diamond Club president.
“Without their help and others, this would not be happening.”
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