Weather this spring has not been kind to some of the Aurora High School teams, especially softball, which has seen several games called off. It even snowed last week -- the middle of April!
The high school baseball team has been able to host a handful of games at Ed Sherwin Field across from the school, where there is a fantastic new facility from which certain people can watch the action.
It is a pressbox, which was completed last fall, courtesy of the Continental Amateur Baseball Association, and in conjunction with an Aurora team that plays in the CABA High School World Series. The brick structure cost $55,000.
I have watched three games from the pressbox, including April 12, when the Greenmen hosted Solon in a doubleheader on one of this spring's rare days when the temperature soared into the 70s.
The pressbox really adds a lot to the game. An announcer introduces each batter on the public address system, just like at Major and Minor League and college stadiums, and music is played between innings, featuring songs recorded on disks.
In the middle of the fifth inning, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is played, just like it is at many stadiums in the middle of the seventh inning of nine-inning games. I was told there are four different renditions of the song on the disks.
SOME OF the recorded songs feature organ music just like the handful of pro baseball stadiums that have live organists.
The pressbox is a wonderful location from which to photograph games. With a telephoto lens, one can catch good action at all four bases without anything or anyone blocking the line of sight.
When the pressbox was dedicated last fall, Aurora Parks-Recreation Director Jim Kraus told the Advocate, "The pressbox is terrific and a wonderful addition to Ed Sherwin Field. It's another step toward improving our facilities and making a premier field for our school, residents and visitors."
"A pressbox can make a huge difference in the experience of watching baseball," said Scott Weber, Aurora director of the CABA. "Many fans have become accustomed to the music and interaction between the pressbox and the fans."
For those who haven't noticed, the pressbox has been placed on top of the third base dugout. The floor is about 6 feet off the ground.
The structure features six shatterproof double windows, a sound system with all-weather speakers mounted on top of the backstop, food-down press tables and air conditioning. So far this year, the latter hasn't been needed.
Money for the pressbox was raised from ticket sales and concessions at the high school World Series, plus raffles and other fundraisers.
In the spring of 2011, CABA named Aurora as a host site for the high school World Series, and the event brings elite high school teams from all over the United States here and to 15 other fields in Northeast Ohio.
SHERWIN Field is a fine facility. It should be in great shape for summer play. The winter weather has taken a bit of a toll on the field, with some patches of grass missing, but those can be fixed with prolonged dry conditions.
Meanwhile, the new AHS varsity softball field adjacent to Sherwin Field has still not been used for games. The bare ground is very rough outside the fence -- and quite muddy on rainy, cold days -- and that's where most fans would sit or stand to watch games.
From a photographer's standpoint, I have a big concern about the new field. Since it's surrounded by a woven wire fence that is about 10 feet high, it's virtually impossible to photograph games.
I doubt whether the umpires will allow the gates next to the dugouts to be open during play, and the dugouts are usually too busy for an extra person -- a photographer -- to stand inside when players and coaches are coming and going.
It would be great if someone would donate money to build a pressbox on top of one of those dugouts!
Until drier conditions prevail and the new field is playable, games will continue to take place at Field 7 along the access road to Harmon School.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189