Libertyville baseball field gets fresh look
There’s a certain charm to the baseball field at Libertyville High School (Libertyville, Illinois), but even the game’s most precious venues need a little touching up every now and then.
Options were slim for the athletic department at the school, landlocked by busy streets that don’t permit much room for expansion or significant upgrades. The baseball field already possessed a unique look and feel that attracted local crowds, but opportunities presented themselves in the unlikeliest of places: scoreboards and fences.“Other coaches like playing on our fields, so by doing what we did with this it was just kind of like the garnish or the star on the Christmas tree,” said head football and baseball coach Jim Schurr. “We got it done right before hosting the state regional playoffs last year, so it kind of finished it off nice.”
Coaches wouldn’t often consider windscreens or stadium graphics significant upgrades, but the reaction from the community indicates otherwise. Schurr said the school worked with BigSigns.com to replace windscreens on the outfield fences, and a new banner on the scoreboard’s backside display a brief history of the team’s achievements, including conference championships and appearances in the state finals.
The press box for the football field, which sits a stone’s throw behind home plate, now displays the team’s schedule.
That’s just a portion of the improvements made at the baseball field, where the seemingly minor changes have made big differences to those who spend their spring afternoons watching the Wildcats play ball.
“I’ve gotten a lot of nice emails and cold-call comments or text messages from people I don’t even know, but they’re alumni that live in the community,” Schurr said. “They want to say, ‘I love what you’re doing. It’s been a long time coming.’”
Libertyville has a rich history, and just a year ago the baseball team finished 33-4, falling to Mt. Carmel in the state title game. Schurr said the school’s football, girl’s volleyball and boy’s swimming teams have also been performing at high levels.
Libertyville’s baseball stadium has a presence that few other local venues can rival. The short brick walls running down the left and right field lines are mildly reminiscent of the historic ballpark that sits 35 miles away on Chicago’s north side. The proximity of the football field and its bleachers allow spectators a bird’s eye view along the third-base line.
Then there are the blaze orange seats that might look vaguely familiar to baseball enthusiasts. Scattered down the lines and beyond the outfield fences are clusters of these stadium seats that once graced Dodger Stadium before its major renovation in 2005.
Schurr said the school was able to work with others in the community to transport 100 of the seats back to Libertyville. Every year or so they’ll install patches of them here and there, adding a little more character to the ballpark.
The latest improvements with BigSigns.com just add to the atmosphere, and everyone from spectators to the players take notice.
“When people walk up to the ballpark, it’s not a major league stadium or anything but kids take their fourth or fifth step, stop and look around and say, ‘this is pretty cool,’” Schurr said.
The biggest challenge organizers faced with the project was pulling it off in such a short period of time. Schurr said they wanted the banners and graphics in time for the state regionals, so they worked closely with BigSigns.com to make it happen.
Measurements had to perfect, and ultimately everything came together one week before the end of the season.
Whether it’s major renovations or minor improvements, planning and organization mean everything, and thankfully for Libertyville the project came together with few hiccups. That’s not the case for every athletic administrator or coach out there, and that’s why collaboration is vital.
That’s especially important in baseball, where placement of banners and colors could actually impact the game. Schurr, a baseball mind with more than 20 years coaching at the high school level, made sure outfield windscreens and backstop graphics didn’t include any white, which could drastically affect how players see the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand or off the bat.
Considering the big picture is always important, but don’t neglect the little things that could dramatically alter the course and success of the project.
“Do your due diligence and homework, because if it looks good on one ballpark doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to look good on another,” Schurr said. “It’s the sports-specific details that you have to think about.”