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Winner's historic baseball field gets support

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

WINNER -- Let there be light at Leahy Bowl.

An effort to preserve the Winner baseball field's eight 80-foot light towers was successful, as the stadium's supporters netted about $70,000 in donations over a span of nine days, Winner Baseball Association Treasurer Glen McCready said Thursday.

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"The support was just amazing," McCready said. "The community wanted to keep the nostalgic look of the field."

The upgrades were needed after a wind storm blew down one of the light towers in April.

If at least $50,000 was not raised in time for the May 19 Winner City Council meeting, the city planned to tear the light towers down, and the field would have been restricted to day games this season.

McCready said construction was in progress Thursday, and the goal is to have work completed by June 4. The city suspended all baseball games at Leahy Bowl until the issue is fixed. The Winner/Colome spring baseball team moved its games to Colome after the stadium was deemed unsafe for games.

The fixes on the first phase of the project include stabilizing and anchoring the foundations of the other seven light towers at the field, along with installing a temporary replacement for the eighth pole that fell down. McCready said the extra money raised above the needed $50,000 will be put toward future phases of the project. To fully refurbish the lights, the project is estimated to cost about $140,000. McCready fielded calls from people across the state, and some outside of the state, who connected with the historical nature of the field.

"There's so many memories here for so many people," he said.

The field hosted games of the Basin League, which was home to former professional players, along with amateurs, from 1953 to 1974. The Basin League was played throughout the state, including Mitchell.

Winner's field sits at the bottom of a hill in which the bleachers are built into. Spectators can watch games from their vehicles from the top of the hill, looking down on the field.

More than 70 games are scheduled to be played at Leahy Bowl this year, including amatuer and teener games, including the State A junior teener tournament in July.

The field is named after Frank Leahy, who was a Winner native and played sports in the town before playing football at Notre Dame and later coaching the Fighting Irish football team in the 1940s and 1950s, leading the school to four national championships.

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