Playing without a home

Marshall baseball leads off another season deprived of a stadium fans, players and alumni can call home

Along Route 2, about seven miles outside of Marshall University’s campus, lies the YMCA Kennedy Center. This recreational park is home to a swimming pool, soccer fields and the George T. Smailes baseball field, which lies along the bank of the Ohio River.

As the warmer weather begins to move in, the Marshall baseball team moves out to Smailes field to get in some work for its upcoming games.

People may ask why the team doesn’t practice on its own field, but the only problem is Marshall doesn’t have a baseball field of its own. As a result, to practice, the team usually resorts to using the new Chris Cline indoor facility, or on a nice day, the university football field.

Although it may to be an inconvenience to an outside observor, members of the team players said it’s not as bad as people think.

Burris Warner, a junior transfer from Auburndale, Florida, said he was a little uneasy when he first found out Marshall didn’t have a field, but he said not having a field also has its perks.

“I was a little skeptical when I came to Marshall and found out there wasn’t a baseball field, but everything works out,” Warner said. “We go out to Power Park and play at a nice minor league complex so you can’t complain about that.”

Leo Valenti, a junior transfer from Olympia, Washington, said he felt similar to Warner and said he’s used to not having a field.

“It wasn’t really a big deal for me when I found out Marshall didn’t have a field,” Valenti said. “We didn’t have a home field at my junior college either, so it’s not really a big deal for me.”

Although the players said they are indifferent they’re the only team on campus without their own facility, they said they think the program would improve if a field was built.

If students or fans want to attend a Marshall home baseball game, they usually find themselves driving almost an hour to Charleston. Valenti and Warner said they think the team would get a lot more support from the student body if it had a field on campus creating a better overall atmosphere regarding the program.

“More people would want to come out to the games and create a better atmosphere because we would have actual students and fans coming out to the games,” Warner said. “But instead fans have to drive an hour to our own home field.”

Mayor Steve Williams said in an article on HerdZone in 2013 he wants to make the city of Huntington sparkle, and he said one way to do that is with the construction of a baseball diamond.

“We will have a ballpark built before I leave office, by any means we can,” Williams said. “There’s no doubt in my mind about that.”

Marshall’s next game will be noon Saturday against Lehigh University in Huntington. 

Brittanie Fowler can be contacted at [email protected].