Whitefish Bay celebrates new Counsell baseball field with no-hitter
Many thanked for their efforts
The sun was shining, and reflected brightly off the new brick facades and dugouts with plaques and bricks honoring the donors in full easy view.
The new real grass of the outfield looked as finely tuned and perfect as the state-of-the-art artificial turf infield.
Pitchers were warming up in practice areas that were as fine as any of those in the best minor league parks in the Midwest.
The Booster Club grill was in full flight as always, and Dr. Garland Yarborough, who was part of the original Cahill Park renovation committee back in the early 1990s, was on hand to throw a strike to Blue Duke baseball coach Jay Wojcinski on the opening pitch.
And, oh yes, Milwaukee Brewers mascot Hank the dog was on his fluffy best behavior, getting his picture taken countless times over. And seeing as this was Whitefish Bay's dedication day for its brand-new $450,000 Counsell Field baseball park, of course Blue Duke junior pitcher Adam Fuda threw a no-hitter over Greenfield for a win in the first game of the summer season.
Fuda just happens to be the son of Carl Fuda, president of Friends of Bay Baseball, who helped shepherd a substantial amount of private funding to aid in paying for this gorgeous park.
It was just that kind of a day Friday, May 23, at Cahill Park in Bay. Hopefully it was the first of many such more good days to come.
"I told him (Adam Fuda) before the game to put on a show," said Wojcinski with a laugh. "I guess he heard me."
It appeared he did, as his effort capped off a grand late-afternoon celebration of the new facility, one that everyone seems to think Bay got its money's worth out of.
"This is all very gratifying," said Yarborough afterward. "Oh, my goodness, it is something to look at. It is one of the best, if not the best high school parks in all of Wisconsin. ... I was very honored to be asked to be a part of this because so many people put in such an enormous amount of time, energy and money into all of it.
"It was a real lovefest to the sport of baseball (in Bay)."
Back in the early 1990s, Yarborough said it was a group of parents "who wanted the best for their kids" that put together the original Cahill Park ("It was pretty harrowing there beforehand," he said).
This effort takes it a step further, he noted.
"I say they made a pretty decent statement (in what they want for their kids)," he said.
The funding was a joint effort that included village and school district money. Bay all-time baseball great Craig Counsell, for whom the field is named, was honored for his generosity, as was Harris Turer.
The park will not only be a centerpiece for all baseball programs in Bay, from youth all the way through high school, but it will also serve a practical purpose as outside the left field fence is a deep swale, a retention pond that will be used to offset the effects of torrential rains, such as those did great damage to the village and the entire North Shore area in 2010.
But it is the field that everyone will talk about, as it is not only a gleaming homage' to a great sport, which can't help but raise the level of all those who play on it, but also honors the fans. No more lumpy, high-rise bleachers sitting on dirt. Instead, there's a wide semicircle of seats sitting on concrete behind the backstop, with retaining walls and solid footings underneath.
Even the bubbler has been given a new mess-free concrete base, and, of course, there is an amazingly high-tech new scoreboard.
Plaques honoring are on the back of the visiting dugout. The voice of Bay baseball, Don Levings, who served as emcee for the event, said there's always room for more names, "so feel free to donate." Well over 30 families, individuals and companies are honored with either bricks or with names on the plaque.
Levings made special note to thank Carl Fuda and Ken Kaszubowski for the organizational know-how in bringing together all the many needed moving parts in this project.
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