Long Beach State University to Add Lights to Softball Field
Ok, men’s fastpitch fans. You should recognize a member of the Long Beach State coaching staff in that photo above. Who? Comment below, or on Facebook. Who’ll be the first to ID him? Give up? Click here to see.
I am looking forward to seeing Long Beach’s women’s softball team “under the lights”. On a different note, now the question is, will men’s fastpitch ever be played under those new lights at the Softball Field at Long Beach State? Ah, we can dream….
Softball Lights, Three Other Capital Projects Approved To Proceed
LONG BEACH, Calif. – In conjunction with the University, Long Beach State Athletics has received approval to begin work on four priority capital projects in phase one of a three-part plan for major improvements across Long Beach State’s athletics facilities.
In the first wave, the LBSU Softball Complex, Rhodes Tennis Center, Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center and Bohl Diamond at Blair Field will receive critical renovations.
In fantastic news for the nationally acclaimed softball program, the LBSU Softball Complex will receive lights, making it the third softball diamond in the Big West to be able to host night games. Placing lights at the field also greatly increases the amount of everyday use the field can have, from clinics and camps to additional practice time in the winter.
Upgrades at Long Beach State’s Off-Campus Ballpark, Blair Field as well
Finally, at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field, a faulty field pump will be replaced, an inconspicuous problem that will nonetheless have a tremendous impact on the quality of the field at the busy baseball facility. The project will also include a selection renovations of both inside and outside of the facility aimed at meeting and improving the ADA experience.
For those not familiar with Blair Field in Long Beach, it is a beautiful little ballpark located just up the road from the Editor’s home. Blair has an intimate feel for fans, as shown by this photo. Besides being the home of the Long Beach State baseball team, “The Dirtbags”, It is used by some of the Long Beach high schools from time to time. The editor’s twin brothers, Rick and Bob Flanagan played high school baseball there (Rick a pitcher, Bob, his catcher). The game we all remember was when Millikan played cross-town rival, Poly High School, led by MLB Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn, or as Vin Scully called him, “The Great Tony Gwynn”. Rick (left hander) was brought out of the bullpen to face Gwynn. He didn’t get Tony out that day, but then again, the list of pitchers that did not get Tony out is long and distinguished.
An earlier story about Blair Field ran here at Fastpitch West in 2017, the year the Dirtbags hosted Texas, with ESPN in town and narrowly missed advancing to the College World Series.
Blair Field has a men’s fastpitch connection as well, having hosted the 1976 ISC World Tournament. The Long Beach Firefighters Union was the host team that year. They did a superb job, though I recall the City of Long Beach disappointing everyone by refusing to allow the sale of everyone’s favorite cold beverage. That said, the sale of coolers and ice went through the roof 🙂 I don’t know that I’ll ever get a chance to drive 10 minutes to watch the ISC World Tournament again, but we loved having it in town. It was quite the event.
The player I remember most from the tournament was Ralph Salazar of Fresno Winchell’s (4-1, 0.72 ERA, 58 K, 6 BB, First team All-World), who led his team to a fifth place finish. Salazar was physically imposing in the circle, with that giant left arm bicep, but it was his change-up that dazzled many hitters that year.
Ten-time ISC World Champions, the Long Beach Nitehawks played their games across the street, at “Joe Rodgers Field”, which hosted some of the loser’s bracket games, but Blair Field was better suited to give the event a marquee location, at Blair Field. (they skinning the infield grass for the tournament)
The Nitehawks had a disappointing finish in the ISC in ’76, tied for 13th, while their arch-rival Lakewood Jets finished second, with three players earning all-world honors, infielder Dennis Powell, .333
outfielder Hice Stiles, .435 and outfielder Al Goldberg, .615, who earned additional honors as the top hitter in the tournament.
Hice Stiles was one of fastpitch’s true 5 tool players, who played in a style reminscent of the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio. The local Long Beach paper ran a story about Hice when he was inducted into the Long Beach Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame. Famed fastpitch writer and photographer Bob Otto also penned a story about Hice Stiles.
The Lakewood Jets were Lanny Rupp’s team, (Ronnie Rupp’s dad) who played their home games north of Blair Field, at Mayfair Park in Lakewood, often compared to Fenway Park for it’s short porch, but high fence in left field. Despite it’s tight quarters, Mayfair was a favorite of So Cal softball teams. Unlike Joe Rodgers Field where the Nitehawks played, it had grass in the outfield. The ‘Hawks field, Joe Rodgers Field finally installed grass years later, sadly after the Nitehawks finished their long run as a team.
More About Blair Field
Blair Field is a stadium in Long Beach, California. It originally opened in 1956 and is primarily used for baseball. It holds 3,238 people. It is named for Frank Blair, the sports editor for the Long Beach Press-Telegram newspaper for 32 years.
Located in Recreation Park, it was constructed in 1958 and over the years has fostered local amateur baseball and hosted Moore League high school football and baseball teams, along with American Legion and Connie Mack baseball. The Chicago Cubs baseball team held spring training at the ballpark in 1966, the Los Angeles Rams football team and Olympic teams have used the site for practice or exhibition games.
Editor’s note: The Chicago Cubs have a long history in the Long Beach area, holding their annual spring training at nearby Catalina Island , for 30 years (the little island 23 miles across the sea from Long Beach, CA) (1921-1941 and 1946-1951). The Cubs owner then? Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. who owned the Cubs AND the island.
It is the home of the Long Beach State 49ers baseball team, “the Dirtbags,” and former home of the defunct Western Baseball League team, the Long Beach Breakers, and the defunct Golden Baseball League team, the Long Beach Armada.
In 1992, $1.475 million was spent to renovate the 3,238-seat facility. New spectator seating, field lights, a playing field with state-of-the-art drainage system, and turf which exceeds professional baseball standards were installed. Additional improvements, including 774 new box seats and a new scoreboard, were made in 1999.
In 2008, CSULB and the City of Long Beach built a new scoreboard with a full LCD color video screen and LED score displays.
Prior to the 2016 season, a new outfield fence was built. The new fence reduced the dimensions of the park, while providing a safer, padded barrier for outfielders. In 2017, the Troy & Danyll Tulowitzki Batting Facility as well as the Jered Weaver Bullpen were constructed.