OUR VIEW: Bring in fences at CadwellCadwell Park is Mitchell’s showcase for summertime activities. It hosts dozens of regular-season baseball games annually. Two out of every three state amateur baseball tournaments are held there.
Cadwell Park is Mitchell’s showcase for summertime activities. It hosts dozens of regular-season baseball games annually. Two out of every three state amateur baseball tournaments are held there.
Cadwell is a gem, and of that there is no doubt. Through hard work, the field has constantly been updated. New fencing, restrooms, bullpens and backstops come to mind as relatively recent renovations that have improved the experience for players and fans.
Just one problem: Cadwell Park is big. Really big.
The fence is 340 feet from home plate down the foul lines and 420 feet in center field. If Mitchell was a majorleague city, Cadwell would be among the top five largest parks in baseball.
By comparison, a hitter at Yankee Stadium must hit the ball just 318 feet for a home run to left field and 314 feet to right field. In the majors, 10 stadiums have left-field foul lines of 329 feet or less. Only four stadiums have deeper left-field foul poles than Cadwell Park.
Hitting home runs at Cadwell always has been tough, and it’s only getting more difficult. Citing concerns about safety, most levels of baseball are now requiring players to use wood bats, or bats made of materials that imitate their wood counterparts.
So while Cadwell Park’s fences have been out-of-reach for most batters over the years, it only will get worse in the seasons to come.
Unless, of course, the fences are moved in.
A report in Saturday’s Daily Republic noted that feelings are mixed about moving Cadwell’s fences and creating a more longball-friendly facility. At present, it’s nothing more than talk. There is no plan in place.
Some are worried about cost. Others say home runs will still happen — they’ll just be fewer and farther between.
As for The Daily Republic, we worry that this wood bat movement may only be temporary. Perhaps new technology will emerge in the coming years that heralds a return to metal bats.
Today, however, we say move the fences inward.
Baseball is and should be a defensive game, but home runs are still an exciting component of any contest. To remove the potential for a home run reduces the interest of fans and, to an extent, some players.
We realize there is cost involved, but it should be looked upon as just another in the long line of improvements that have been made at Cadwell in recent years.
Again, Cadwell Park is Mitchell’s summertime activities gem. We use it to draw people to town, and the idea should be to make the experience enjoyable for everyone — players and fans. Taking home runs out of the equation lessens the experience for everyone.
Several major-league parks have moved their fences in to better accommodate trends. And baseball famously lowered pitching mounds in the 1960s to give batters more opportunity to provide offense.
With the return of wood bats, Cadwell Park simply is too big. History shows that part of baseball’s lure is that it successfully changes with the times.
Bring in the fences.