By Jack Davis
The new OâMalley Family Field officially opened April 27 after months of renovation to the previously named Franklin Field were finished.
Construction on Franklin Field began in November after the Harvard-Westlake Athletic Department determined the field was in serious need of an overhaul.
“Players were the driving force,” said Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas. “They kept telling us playing away games was preferable to playing at home, thatâs a sign.”
Renovations began in November, starting with the field being graded and leveled. The infamous short left field fence was pushed back, the configuration of the field was changed. New sprinklers, plumbing, dugouts, bullpens, and a clubhouse were put in. New sunken-in dugouts, gave additional seats along the baselines had better sight lines.
Despite the start of the field being slightly delayed because of rainy weather and complaints from neighbors, the school was able to reach its goal of playing on OâMalley Family Field in the 2010 season. The building of a hitting facility behind the right field fence has not been completed.
Barzdukas and baseball coach Matt LaCour are thrilled with the results of the project.
“The school has built a fantastic facility and once the hitting facility is finished it will be second to none,” LaCour said.
“The field is still like that new car right now, you donât want to put a dent into it, but that will wear off soon. Itâs a great place to be. The playing surface has really started to solidify, makes me want to take groundballs again. We are lucky to have it,” LaCour said.
“OâMalley Family Field was an Harvard-Westlake community project. The players pushed us to do it. Families and alums came through with resources and support. Vice-President John Amato led us through the approval process. J.D. DeMatte built it. The result is a jewel of a field,” Barzdukas said.
The new field will serve more than just an increased aesthetic appeal, as having such a nice facility is expected to bring long term benefits to the baseball program.
“The hitting facility will allow us to practice in bad weather and with the surface being graded properly we will get back on the field a lot quicker after we get rain. We will be able to practice functionally all three of our upper school teams at the facility at one time and have enough room for every player to get the amount of reps that are necessary,” LaCour said.
“I love playing on this field and I see little kids coming out to our games and kind us just sitting there in awe,” outfielder Oliver Lowry â10 said. “It is such a great place to play, I think it will bring kids to the program who otherwise might not have come.”