By Michael YEGHIAYAN
The future of Glendale’s Stengel Field remains murky as the park approaches its scheduled summer offseason at the end of the month. Currently operated by the City of Glendale, initial headway had been made that would have resulted in a transfer of the field to the Glendale Unified School District, but those plans have been temporarily put on hold.
Over the next few months the Community Services and Parks Dept. will prepare a report for the Glendale City Council recommending a course of action for the ball field. In the meantime, Stengel Field is scheduled to close on July 31 for basic maintenance before reopening in the fall, according to the director of Community Services and Parks Dept. Jess Duran.
Stengel Field is home to CV Falcon baseball and the Glendale Community College Vaqueros as well as the Angelenos, a summer collegiate baseball club that competes in the California Collegiate Summer League. The Angelenos’ third season in Glendale is scheduled to end on July 30 with a home game against the East L.A. Dodgers.
“The field will be refurbished … we do not expect any problems,” said Duran. “Every year we take a few months to allow the field to regrow while nobody is scheduled to use it.”
But CV coach Phil Torres remained concerned about the field’s playability and claimed the field was being overused too late into the summer.
“We want the field shut down now so it can grow as it should while it is hot. It is being overused right now; the grass is being destroyed,” said Torres. “The ideal outcome would be for us to be able to use the field. There is no alternative plan right now [and] we are hopeful that when the time comes we’ll be able to use the field.”
Some former Crescenta Valley baseball players have a strong connection to their time spent at Stengel Field and are disappointed in its current condition. Bryan Longpre, who played four years with the Falcons before spending three seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system, was especially saddened by the state of the field.
“I grew up watching baseball games at Stengel. To a 12-year-old kid, it was a hallowed local baseball field. My grandfather coached at Stengel and both my uncles played baseball at Stengel growing up. In high school I was lucky enough to have a great clubhouse, stadium, and beautiful field to play on, but players today are not as fortunate,” said Longpre. “My brother Cory just finished his senior baseball season at Crescenta Valley and instead of enjoying the same clubhouse and stadium I did, his season was blemished by bungalows, parking tickets, patchy grass, and a chain-link fence in the stands.”
Stengel Field first opened in 1949 under the name Verdugo Park Municipal Baseball Field. It was changed in 1952 to honor Glendale resident Casey Stengel, the Hall of Fame baseball player and manager best known for his tenure with the New York Yankees in the 1950s.
The field is in need of major renovations, with all but the front two rows of the stands deemed unsafe. Traditionally the site for the Crescenta Valley High School graduation ceremony, that event has been moved elsewhere the past two years.
“It’s sad to see Stengel in its current state because this field should be a point of pride within our community, not an eyesore,” remarked Longpre. “Regardless of whether you are a baseball fan or not, Stengel Field is a historical landmark. I just hope the community is able to come together and bring Stengel back to life.”