No Bloch Park means no home baseball for three Dallas County Schools

Published 12:22 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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By Travis Gupton

The Selma Times-Journal

The devastation from the tornado on January 12 is still being felt by Selma residents. The city continues the process to rebound from the destruction it left behind four months later.

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High School baseball teams at Keith, Southside, and Selma are suffering as they wait for Bloch Park to get repaired.

Bloch Park is the home stadium for all three high schools, which was damaged during the tornado and has not been repaired as of yet. Without Bloch Park, these three schools have had to cancel multiple home games and only play away games. For the seniors, their last time to play in front of their home fans has been taken away due to the fact that they have nowhere to play home games.

“I’ve been playing baseball for four years now,” Keith High School Senior Arthur Moore said. “It hurts having to go on the road every single game.”

Selma High School practices at a field over by Hope Academy but head coach Steve Washington says that he is hurt that his guys have to be forced to play nothing but road games.

“It’s hard to generate revenue for your program when you’re always on the road,” Washington said. “You constantly have to spend money to play games. We don’t have any consistent play. It’s hard for us to get good consistent play as far as having a field. We just got a field where we can practice on. A lot of fans haven’t even seen us play this year just because we are always on the road. There are a lot of parents who aren’t able to come to see the kids play because they can’t get off on time to jump on the road and see the game. By the time they do that, the game is over.”

Saints senior Keaundre Sharpe said that he feels  Bloch Park is never ready for baseball season or something is wrong with the field for the three years he has been on the team.

“We haven’t had a field ever since I got here,” Sharpe said. “We played at Selma University during my 10th-grade year. We played one home game last year at Wallace. Now we don’t have a field at all. At Bloch Park, we could have played double headers everything down there. That was our home field. Our fans. We had the advantage but now we won’t have that anymore. It’s kind of heartbreaking.”

Sharpe continued discussing the inconsistencies of playing at Bloch Park during his three years at Selma High.

“My 10th-grade year, I don’t know what was wrong with Bloch Park,” Sharpe said. “But, we played at Selma University. Before the game, we had to fix up the field. They let us play there because it was a good-looking field. In my 11th-grade year, Bloch Park wasn’t ready until the Summer. We played that one game at Wallace Community College-Selma. We played I think three more games after that. This year it’s the same thing. We would have had a home field but the tornado happened. I can’t be mad at the tornado though.”

All three coaches seem to have the same feeling when it comes to Bloch Park.

“Frustrating is an understatement,” Keith Head Coach Anthony Lumpkin said. “Arthur has been playing since the eighth grade and Javon (Richardson) the eighth grade as well. It’s always been a dream of ours to play in front of our home fans and it’s just not happening. We have been pushing to try and get a place to play at home but to no avail.”

Washington shared his frustrations for his team over at Selma.

“We have a lot of kids who take baseball seriously,” Washington said, “There are kids who only play baseball. So they expect their season to go just as well as any other season. They want to play baseball just as bad as anybody else wants to play their sport. It’s kind of killing their motivation about playing baseball. I have a couple of kids who are about ready to leave and go somewhere else to play. I can’t be mad at them I really want them to stay but, looking at the resources we have here you can’t blame them.”

All three schools have canceled around six to seven home games this season. Keith has been able to play about five road games. Richardson said doing nothing but road games is not only affecting the team’s athletics. It’s affecting their schoolwork.

“Sometimes due to the away games we have to leave early out of our class,” Richardson said. “So, a lot of our work we have to make up at home because we leave early trying to get to the away game.”

The seniors at the three schools say its going to take someone in the community to help them get a field to be able to play.

“I feel like we should have our own field,” Richardson said. “This practice field we got now, we treat it like our own field. We cover up the mound, take up the bases, take care of the field every day after practice. I feel like we are treating this field like our own field so why shouldn’t we play on it.”

Moore said after he graduates from Keith he wants to see the community come together and help the school come up with a way for the Bears to have their own baseball field.

“When I leave Keith High School I want to see the community come out and get our baseball field finished that we didn’t get a chance to play on,” Moore said. “That way the upcoming generation that comes and plays baseball they will have a field to play on instead of having to go through the stuff we went through.”

Washington feels like something must be done just so Selma High can continue to have a baseball team.

“Hearing them talk throughout the season I know it’s upsetting,” Washington said. “Our season is almost over and it feels like we just started because of the number of games we had to cancel or reschedule then always being on the road. I know for them it’s upsetting. They don’t really have an outlook of what they want to do. I know baseball wasn’t an option. Even if they had a year where they could play a full season at home and on the road they probably would have given more attention to wanting to play baseball outside of high school. It’s just killing their motivation to want to play baseball. Now you are going to have a lot of kids getting ready to leave. I’m hoping that a lot of those kids stay but, the way it’s looking I don’t know what the future holds.”

Baseball is not the only sport affected by Bloch Park’s damage. Selma High uses Bloch Park for its home track and field meets, but can’t this season because of the damage.