Major renovations underway at baseball, softball fields

Tue, 2012-09-25 10:36 -- univcomm
September 25, 2012

Opening day for Anderson University baseball is six months away. But work is being put in during the fall. And it’s not just the sound of coach David Pressley’s riding mower cutting the outfield grass, players taking batting practice or the popping sound of a baseball hitting the leather of a fielder’s glove.

The sounds of deconstruction and subsequent construction at Don Brandon Field have been quite prevalent the past five weeks.

The former press box was scheduled to be replaced this year. Most figured that the little white building that sat atop the grand stand for many years would be totally demolished and reduced to kindling.

[Photo: Construction of the new press box at Don Brandon Field is slated to be completed next week. Credit: Quintin Harlan / The Herald Bulletin]

Matt Smith and his crew from M & S Masonry — the same company that had a hand in the construction of the York Performance hall — had other ideas.

“They didn’t realize we were going to take it down as one big unit,” Smith said. “Some were expecting us to do a full (demolition).”

The last five weeks have seen a new brick press box being erected at the baseball diamond. The new structure will have a concession stand in the lower half and game operations on the top floor.

Work began as soon as the Indianapolis Colts training camp left campus and the construction of the building is slated to be completed before next Saturday afternoon’s homecoming football game against Hanover.

As for its predecessor, that building is currently sitting on a flatbed trailer waiting for its second life to begin as the first press box at the AU softball diamond.

After the building is confirmed to be suitable for use, the plan is to pour four to six concrete bases to set the building on and have it a few feet of the ground behind home plate at the softball diamond, where there currently is no press box.

“There were times I did softball games and it started raining and I could either cover up with an umbrella or go to my car and wait it out and broadcast the second half of the game,” Edwards said. “This will be a major improvement for everyone.”

After 42 years in the Anderson University baseball program, there wasn’t much that could make former head coach Don Brandon nervous at the baseball diamond that now bears his name. A strong windy day? That made him worry for those working behind the scenes and high above the game the press box.

“You’d worry that it would blow over,” Brandon said. “It was a good little building, it was just dangerous because it was up too high.”

“Brandon and those guys still kid me,” said Dave Edwards who broadcast numerous AU baseball games over the years. “We’d be doing the game and you could feel it moving.”

Peace of mind aside, the new score tower is the latest renovation in making Don Brandon Field the top-flight facility that the current and former coach are working to make into a reality.

First there was the construction of new dugouts, followed by the installation of an all-brick backstop that runs from dugout to dugout. Following that was the addition of a new scoreboard.

Now the press box and plans are in the works to begin raising the funds to install lights so games can be played at night and players won’t have to adjust class schedules.

“(Lights) would be a great benefit to the school both athletically and academically,” Brandon said. “It’s a positive for recruiting because almost all high school fields have lights now. Academically, baseball can be a problem for class attendance. I was always sensitive about that. The coach at Rose-Hulman told me that until they play a tournament format, most all of his midweek games start at 6 p.m.”

“It will become the focal point, especially on the field. The backstop is great, the dugouts are great. We’re really excited about putting a good facade on the field,” Pressley said. “It’s another step in Coach Brandon’s legacy and what he’s done to build this program. He cares for this field and he’s passionate about it. I know he wants to begin fund-raising for lights.”

While the field bears his name, Brandon was quick to deflect praise to those currently in charge of maintaining the program’s progress.

“David is doing an outstanding job and he’s gotten great support from athletic director Marci Taylor,” Brandon said. “They want to make it a more fan-friendly park and I just hope people come out and have a great time and a great experience.”

The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.