South Salem’s 2023 baseball season is going to be an adventure
Repairs to South’s Gilmore Field after December vandalism means some or all of the home varsity season will be eliminated
On December fifth last month, a pair of young vandals drove a pick-up truck onto South Salem’s Gilmore Field, causing major damage to the historic baseball facility.
South High and Salem-Keizer School officials met last week, and have formulated a repair plan at the Hoyt Street field—one that will cost thousands of dollars, and will also lose Saxon varsity players part or all of their home baseball games.
South Salem baseball coach Max Price says he met with a short list of officials, including his principal, athletic director, the district facilities director Joel Smallwood, and the new district coordinator of athletics, Lara Tiffin.
Price says a “well-regarded sports turf company” (Pacific Sports Turf) has been contracted to complete major renovations at Gilmore. The list of repairs—which includes restoration of the field damaged by several ruts left by the vandals, restoration of damaged water valve boxes, reseeding, leveling of the playing surface, and more.
To complicate the repair efforts, much of the work will have to be done by hand due to soggy ground conditions that are normal for Gilmore Field because of its original design to retain water. That means no machines can be brought to the field until the ground hardens.
Weather permitting, repair crews are hoping to complete their work by the end of March—but typical spring rains could push back that timeline by weeks. And even then, the team can’t use the field until all the newly installed sod has taken root. Lots of unknowns are involved.
Price says that, for the varsity baseball team, it means at best, they can play on their own field by mid-to-late April. At worst, it might eliminate all Saxon home baseball games for the entire 2023 season.
“I hope we use it as our rallying cry.”
-South Salem baseball coach Max Price
Price says he feels for his seniors, who have been through so much since their high school careers began.
“As freshmen, their 2020 season was canceled,” laments Price.
“As sophomores, their 2021 season was shortened to just 15 or so games.”
And now, the team’s best expectation this season, if the weather stays dry and repairs go well, is to host a home game in mid-April.
All that said, Price says it would be easy to use the repairs as an excuse to have a bad season, but he is anticipating that the team will rally around the adversity to compete for a conference title.
“I hope we use it as our rallying cry,” admits Price.
“Winning a league championship will be that much sweeter because of this.”
Note: my sports stories routinely use photos taken by local photographers, these days especially from Laura Ellison of LE Images. If you would like to see boys and girls basketball photos, go to Facebook and check out the picture albums filed on the Facebook page Full Access Sports.