Players kept from field after $20K in repairs

Questions were raised Monday over roughly $48,000 of improvements to the Oberlin Recreation Complex baseball fields.

J.J. Schaum, president of the Oberlin Baseball Softball Federation, expressed concerns to city council over the city’s summer league teams not being allowed to play on field two, which the city spent $20,000 to repair.

“This field sits vacant while other Oberlin baseball and softball teams have nowhere to practice or play games,” he said.

The four main baseball fields at the park were renovated this spring along with the parking lot.

Field two is the biggest with 90 feet between bases, a raised mound, and 350 feet to the center of the outfield with a 12-foot-tall fence — metrics generally used by high school and professional teams.

“There’s a little difference in field two because it’s considered a true ‘premier field,’” said Oberlin recreation director Ian Yarber.

Schaum said only one of the federation’s 10 teams are qualified to play on the field two and only three of the 70 games played this year have been on that field.

“For most of the month of June there have been teams wanting to either play games or practice that could not because a suitable field was not available and the city would not let us use field two,” he said.

Yarber said there are not as many teams this year that can use field two because of the size of the mound and the city’s safety precautions for younger kids but he has teams interested in coming to Oberlin to use it.

The federation is expected to host a softball tournament this weekend at the park and use fields one through four.

Schaum said he was told 10 days prior to the tournament by city officials that field two could not be used and that teams would have to use field five instead.

“Field five is considerably smaller than the other fields,” he said. “It has traditionally been used only for tee-ball and practices.”

City manager Eric Norenberg said the children could not use field two because there were concerns with the safety of the players with the size of the mound.

“This has been a practice for 50 years as far as the federation’s using the fields and it’s never been an issue,” said councilman Ronnie Rimbert. “It’s a liability issue that the city is terrified of.”

He encouraged each council member to visit field two: “My recommendation is to take out the mound,” Rimbert said.

Council asked to receive a progress report at its next meeting at 7 p.m. July 20 on the challenges and solutions to the fields along with how much it would cost to remove the mound and put the field back to its original status.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.