Shining Up the Diamond

The Marlins baseball team will play in a freshened venue this coming spring. President Scott Miller announced that the college will use funds donated by Mason and Joan Brock to renovate the baseball stadium complex. The stadium is named after Joan Brock’s father, Kenneth R. Perry.

The college will make major upgrades to the bleacher system, dugouts and fencing, incorporate more landscaping and VWC branding and replace several pieces of baseball equipment, according to Joanne Renn, executive director of intercollegiate athletics.

Spectators will enjoy better viewing due to the much shorter four-foot infield fencing.

“You can look over it instead of through it,” Renn said.

New bleachers will also be installed. In accordance with new safety codes, these will be closed-system bleachers. This means there will be no openings between the benches and floors. Renn said they will be handicapped-accessible and will have a seating capacity of 370, 50 of which will be chair-back seats. They will also feature a new climate-controlled press box with a filming platform. Additionally, Pro-style netting with a brick façade behind it will replace the current chain-link backstop giving pitchers a better visual backdrop.

“It’s what they call a good sightline,” Renn said. “Right now there’s an old windscreen that’s kind of shredded.”

Senior outfielder Justin Erby named the new backstop and fencing as the best parts of the upcoming renovations.

“From the outfield you can see everything,” Erby said, and thus the new backstop would benefit outfielders as well as pitchers. He was also pleased about the new, shorter fence. “With the old fence, you feel caged in.”

Freshman pitcher Noah Riffle was happy about the new bleacher system saying it gives the feeling that “the program is on the rise” and will encourage more spectators to come cheer for the Marlins. While his Florida high school was larger than VWC, he explained that the field at VWC is nicer.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity I have here this year,” Riffle said.

Riffle said the team atmosphere has been accepting of the freshmen. That positive clubhouse atmosphere can only get better with the coming upgrade to the dugouts.

The cinder-block dugout walls will be power-washed and repainted. The dugouts will get new rubber floor matting and new cabinets for storing bats and helmets.

Renn said they will also add bent-pipe barriers in front of the dugouts constructed of padded, bent pipes and strong netting.

“So if you’re sitting in a dugout you’ll be able to see out, but you’ll also be protected,” Renn said.

Both dugouts’ benches will be replaced. The new ones will be made of Trex, a non-rotting material made of recycled plastic. The dugout ceilings will be covered with metal roof material to replace the current look of exposed 2 by 4 and plywood.

“Aesthetically, it’ll just be really nice,” Renn explained.

According to Renn, the upgraded landscaping is intended to make the complex “a really beautiful place to hang out, not only for the teams, but for the spectators and fans.” She said the college wanted to “make the best use” of the “very, very generous gift—and much-needed gift.”

The exterior of the complex will have more VWC signage on it, so that people driving by the stadium will see “a lot of Marlins stuff; we’ll have a lot of color,” Renn said.

Assorted smaller items that have needed replacement, such as practice screens, tarp covers, a “turtle” (portable batting cage) and drags for field maintenance, will also be taken care of.

“The baseball team brings a lot of energy,” Erby said, and it has been working toward more success “for a long time.” He said that going from “a history of losing to a history of winning” makes him feel that the team has earned improvements to the field.

When the team’s win-loss record was worse, not as many fans came to the field, Erby said. Now that the Marlins are becoming more known for winning. he said, “It’s nice to watch.”

Hopefully, the renovated complex will draw more fans.

“It’s going to be more of an attraction now,” Erby said.

Sarah Antozzi

(Photo:Anthony Dellamura | Marlin Chronicle)