The “Field of Dreams” campaign to improve the ballpark and its surrounding area at Hoggard High School is becoming reality with preconstruction drawings approved and demolition expected to start in early June.
Friends of Hoggard Baseball began raising money in late March to improve the baseball facility. During the campaign’s first month, more than $27,000 was raised through sponsorships, as well as another $30,000 in in-kind commitments. The group hopes to bring in another $23,000 to reach its goal of $50,000.
On April 29, New Hanover County Schools officials committed to upgrade the hazardous dugouts and bullpens, move a large electrical box away from the field and add padding to the new backstop. County school officials also are researching the feasibility of a safety warning track and the relocation of a mobile classroom that’s in close proximity to the field.
With the real work expected to start sooner than anticipated because of early support for the project–including the volunteer effort of local general contractor John Zabriskie–The Friends of Hoggard Baseball group has also made commitments to demolish the current facility and construct a new, two-story building to house a press box, concessions and bathrooms.
Expanding the area behind home plate is another top priority, while installing a brick backstop that will at least double the current distance to home plate is expected to be complete. The group also hopes to improve field drainage and install as much sod as fund-raising allows, according to organizers.
Hoggard Athletic director Scott Braswell said the baseball field improvements are among his top priorities for the coming year. The school is paying for the backstop netting and poles, and Braswell is working with Principal Steve Sullivan on capital requests for raised, handicap-accessible bleachers and field lighting upgrades.
The Hoggard baseball field is named for E.A. “Spike” Corbin, who transferred to Hoggard from Williston during desegregation. His 1972 Vikings team won the state championship. The team’s hitting facility is named for Jeep St. Ledger, who is celebrating his 35th year with the Hoggard athletic department this year, and has been head coach of the baseball team since 1988.
Tax-deductible donations are now being accepted through CrowdRise at http://www.CrowdRise.com/hoggardbaseballfieldofdreams. For more information about the Field of Dreams project, visit the Friends Facebook page or email FriendsofHoggardBaseball@gmail.com.