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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Babe Ruth President asks to change layout of Babe Ruth field at Whipkey park

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

If you build it, they might come.

That was the core message behind Glendive Babe Ruth Baseball President Dake Pulse’s statements to the city council’s Finance, Utilities, Recreation and Property Committee last Wednesday.

Pulse asked the FUPR Committee to consider exploring changes to the layout of the Babe Ruth League field at Whipkey Park.

He argued that the field is currently “an illegal field” by Babe Ruth League standards because its dimensions are not right. For instance, Pulse pointed out that the distance down the lines to the fence is shorter than the league standard.

Furthermore, he noted that the field was not laid out on the correct orientation to minimize sun glare affecting players and that its current layout did not allow for enough seating capacity for Glendive to win bids to host tournaments.

Pulse bemoaned the fact that Glendive “was way ahead on baseball years ago,” when the city hosted several major Babe Ruth tournaments, but has since fallen behind in its capacity to do so.

Glendive hosted the Babe Ruth League’s state tournament in 1959, the Pacific Northwest regional tournament in 1960 and the Babe Ruth World Series in 1961.

Now, Pulse said the city, due to its field issues, cannot hope to get any tournaments at all.

“It’s got to the point where we’re actually outdated. We’ve been bidding on these big tournaments, but we can’t get them. We can’t even get a small tournament here,” he said.

Earning the right to host a major baseball tournament can be lucrative, Pulse argued. He said Williston recently bid $100,000 to win the right to host a major Babe Ruth tournament, but ended up making money on the deal.

Pulse has suggested flipping the field at Whipkey around to give it a better layout to address the issues he mentioned and hopefully enhance Glendive’s chances at landing tournaments.

Assistant Public Works Director Peter Leath presented the FUPR Committee with a rough sketch of what doing so might look like.

However, Leath’s sketch was not to scale, and he cautioned that flipping the field around may not be a possibility, given the fact that the new Splash Park was constructed near to where the field’s fence currently stands.

“Without getting an engineer to put some hard measurements on it, it’s really hard to know whether that’s a possibility or not,” Leath said.

Pulse also floated the suggestion that the city consider other options to increase Glendive’s capacity to provide youth the opportunity to play baseball. 

He noted that Glendive’s public baseball fields largely consist of a “scattered field here, a field there,” and that the modern norm is to construct baseball “complexes” with multiple adjoining fields.

Pulse also asked city officials to consider the virtues of baseball as they weigh the options, saying that it helps keep kids out of trouble and imparts life lessons to them.

“I don’t know what you guys might do or can do, but the concerns are there and I think we should see what we can do as a community,” he said.

The FUPR Committee took no action on Pulse’s suggestions. Public Works Director Jack Rice said that Pulse has “got some good ideas,” but there was little the city could do at the moment due to budget considerations.

Rice did say that Public Works would help the Babe Ruth League with some of its “more immediate needs,” like moving the gate for field maintenance equipment access because the current one is too close to the Splash Park.

“I guess the other stuff we can look at in the long term,” Rice said.

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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