April 5, 2017
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
It sounds cliché, but it’s true.
If you build it. They will come.
Like the famed movie, “Field of Dreams,” starring Kevin Costner, supporters of the Siegel Middle School baseball program have turned what was once an “open field” into a crown jewel.
Tuesday afternoon, the booster club for Siegel Middle’s baseball team organized and hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony dedicating the recent completion of a bathroom facility for players and fans of both baseball and softball, which is played on an adjacent field.
“Becoming the baseball coach at Siegel gave me the unique opportunity to build the baseball program from the ground up,” said longtime Siegel Middle baseball coach Mike Tobitt. “Due to the efforts of our past and present booster clubs, we have turned an ‘open field’ into a baseball complex.”
The entirety of the complex has been built over a 13-year period.
In 2004, they installed dugouts and fencing, which allowed them to play their first home game. A year later, they added two sets of bleachers and a scoreboard.
In 2007, they built a pair of concession stands – one for baseball and another for softball. They also constructed a press box, concrete backstop and then concreted an area for seating and added a picnic area.
“We installed an irrigation system in 2008,” said Tobitt, who is beginning his 15th year as head baseball coach, “which would allow us to improve our playing area.”
Two years later, they built a “hitters eye” in centerfield and 44 Leyland Cypress trees were planted along the outfield fence line. In 2011, construction of the indoor hitting facility was completed.
“None of the improvements would have been possible without the assistance and cooperation of the administration, the superintendent, the school board, the Richard Siegel Foundation, our sponsors and our parents,” Tobitt said,
The dedication recognized current principal Kim Stoecker and past principal Tom Delbridge, who was at Siegel Middle from 2001-2014. They recognized Director of Schools Don Odom and Assistant Superintendent Gary Clardy along with the current school board members.
School board member Jim Estes attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and addressed those in attendance.
The booster club and Tobitt, who played college baseball at Middle Tennessee State University for legendary Coach John Stanford, also recognized the growing list of sponsors who have helped them over the years.