By Mike Mattson | Muskegon Chronicle Muskegon varsity baseball coach Tom Lopez appreciates historic Marsh Field.
April 25, 2010, 10:33
He’s heard the oldtimers’ stories.
He’s read articles about the baseball diamond that served as home field to the professional Clippers and Lassies in years gone by.
And he grew up with special childhood memories at the park.
“My dad always brought me to the field,’’ Lopez said. “And I chased foul balls for Les David. He’d pay us a hot dog and a couple bucks to chase foul balls.’’
In recent years, Lopez watched the decline of Marsh Field, which serves as the home field for the Big Reds.
Weeds and dandelions invaded the grounds that Les David once cared for with his heart and soul.
The overall upkeep of the facility diminished.
And the playing conditions bordered on being unsafe. Infielders needed mouth guards and face masks as all ground balls were an adventure.
“There are players who dreaded to play here because of the playing conditions,’’ Lopez said recently after an OK Red home game against East Kentwood. “Everyone in the place knew about the Marsh Field ground ball.’’
Marsh Field, located at the busy corner of Laketon Avenue and Peck Street, simply became a victim of its time.
Obviously, the City of Muskegon has faced shrinking revenue and tight budgets. Officials had more important issues on their plate than the maintenance of a baseball field.
Enter the Lakeshore Baseball Club LLC, which reached an agreement in January with the city to operate, maintain and improve Marsh Field.
Take a visit to Marsh Field and you’ll notice some obvious improvements.
• The stands behind home plate sport a fresh coat of green paint and new green padding.
• Burned out bulbs have been replaced on the light towers.
• Dugouts have been refurbished and include a new step for players to view action on the field.
• Tons of new dirt/stone dust have been added to the infield.
• The scoreboard has been repaired.
• The home plate area and pitching mound were rebuilt.
• Baselines were cut and the place is neatly groomed. Players get to play on a lush green grass surface.
• All games have an announcer and the national anthem is played before each game.
• Ballpark food will be coming soon after inspections are complete, but for now there are basic treats available at the concession stand.
Overall, the best thing about Marsh Field is it’s alive with daily activity.
There are two games a night at Marsh, including high school and middle school action. Summer tournaments are being lined up as travel teams will come to town to enjoy the facility.
Neighborhood residents also enjoy walking and jogging on the paved paths that circle the Marsh Field perimeter.
The spruced up park is now the center of the Marsh neighborhood.
It’s alive with baseball and good clean fun.
Lakeshore Baseball Club officials probably could have built a new spiffy facility somewhere in the suburbs.
But their investment in Marsh Field is a wise decision that means its legacy will continue for many years to come.
“The improvements have been great,’’ Lopez said. “It’s been awesome. Our team takes pride in the field and helped with the cleanup and painting. If they will build it for us, I say let’s enjoy it and take care of it.’’