Youth baseball alive and well in Crown Point after merger
By Anthony Nasella Post-Tribune correspondent June 10, 2013 11:32PM
Updated: July 12, 2013 6:42AM
CROWN POINT — Since 1980, American Legion Post 20 has had a baseball program in Crown Point — with as many as 11 teams competing just a decade ago — that featured a district league and round-robin tournament play.
Since those heydays, however, the numbers dwindled down to just two teams in the past three years and then none, and Legion president Dave Dickerson knew drastic measures were needed to save Teagle Field, just a short drive from the historic town square.
His impassioned letter to the editor to a newspaper gained audience with Crown Point’s growing Babe Ruth program. With the two organizations receiving full cooperation and support from City Hall, baseball is alive and well again on Route 55, and Teagle Field is getting a huge upgrade in the process.
American Legion Post 20 has given the Crown Point Babe Ruth a five-year lease of Teagle Field with Babe Ruth handling all responsibilities for the upkeep of the field for the length of the lease. The city helped get the Teagle Field up to par, and Babe Ruth has upgraded the concession stand and is the process of ordering new scoreboard.
The five Crown Point Babe Ruth 16-to-18-year-old teams play their summer games, and also fall contests, at Teagle field, which also hosts overflow contests from the ten 13-to-15-year-old teams that still play the majority of their summer and fall games at the Babe Ruth field on Indiana Street.
“We knew we needed an organization like Babe Ruth to step forward and partner with us,” Dickerson said. “And they’ve kept up their end of the bargain 1,000 percent. The improvements to Teagle field are looking great, and more kids are getting opportunities to play baseball in Crown Point. I couldn’t be any happier because it’s a win-win situation for the kids and the community.
“The American Legion program seems to be a in a bit of decline state-wide. And when our caretaker of the field was unable to continue managing the field due to business interests that was now occupying the free time he previously had to devote to maintaining the field and facility, we knew something had to be done.
When Crown Point Babe Ruth president John Pearson became aware of the American Legion’s need, knowing that Babe Ruth’s need for a second field was becoming a greater priority, the potential partnership looked like a perfect match.
“Dave had given me a little heads-up at the time, and we talked about both of our needs,” Pearson said. “Then he put the article in the paper, which was a good article. That’s when we started getting serious about the possibilities. We (Crown Point Babe Ruth) are growing and expanding, and we knew we needed to start looking for a second field to play at.
“It’s a very perfect partnership. We met with the Legion, and once they saw what we were about and we were serious and what we would we put back into the field, we definitely moved forward in the process.”
But Pearson said much credit has to be given to city, which has allowed the partnership between the two organizations to ultimately work.
“The only way we were able to make this happen was that the city, and Mayor Dave Uran, stepped in and helped us out tremendously,” he said. “They upgraded the whole infield for us. We not only have a real big partnership with the American Legion but also with the city of Crown Point.
“Without either of them, we wouldn’t be where we are now with the second field. And without a second field, we would have had to turn kids away. And Babe Ruth is not about turning kids away.”
Dickerson and Pearson both knew the age range for American Legion (16-to-19) and Babe Ruth (16-to-18) were very similar, and the dimensions of Teagle Field (310 feet on the corners, 385 feet to the alleys and 400 feet to straight-away center with a 14-foot wall) would fully compliment the 16-to-18 age Babe Ruth teams.
“We actively looked for a manager and caretaker of the facility because the distances are similar to the distances at Railcats Stadium,” Dickerson said. “It’s first-class facility with 92-foot light poles. To let that deteriorate for another year because we couldn’t field enough teams and had no management or maintenance would have been a tragedy.”
Instead, to the delight of both organizations, the field is being fully utilized again every night, and the legacy of the post is being commemorated with American Legion Post 20 emblem on all Babe Ruth uniforms, and the American Legion team is competing in Babe Ruth as the CP 20s.
“What Babe Ruth has done just delighted the Legion,” Dickerson said. “To commemorate the American Legion Post 20 with an emblem and to keep our team intact in the league was unbelievable.”
Pearson said the step to honor the post was the least Babe Ruth could do.
“The American Legion Post 20 has done a lot for us,” Pearson said. “We’re playing more games than we ever would have before, and the second facility to allow us to further grow.”