Since its construction, the varsity baseball field has been considered by many to be the centerpiece of our beautiful campus. The admissions office uses the field’s wonderful reputation to attract perspective students by claiming it to be “the second best baseball field in New England, second only to Fenway Park.” Legendary Headmaster Frank Boyden intentionally positioned the field in the center of campus to draw in the student body, thus reiterating the importance of bonding community with extracurricular activities.
Recently, changes have been made to the field that has extracted some of the character and beauty that make it so unique and special. The question many of us on the baseball team continue to ask is, why ruin such an important part of the Deerfield campus? The newly-erected black aluminum fences in front of both benches not only disrupt the natural simplicity of the field, but also do not properly serve as a protective shield.
Quite possibly the most obvious reason for the general dislike regarding the fences is their unattractive appearance. In talking with both Dean of Students Toby Emerson and Athletic Director Chip Davis, both parties agreed that the fences are “not aesthetically pleasing” and take away from the welcoming environment that the baseball field offers.
On a more personal note, we as members of the baseball team, cannot help but feel a lack of connection to the game while being caged into our bench. It is very difficult to cheer on teammates while our view is obstructed by a thick black bar.
The fence may protect against a few sporadic line drives, however, its only conventional use is to protect the players who should already be constantly aware of their surroundings.
Realistically, the fence protects against only a fraction of the potential foul balls. If the Deerfield Administration truly wanted to protect its spectators, than it would need to install a fence that stretched the entire length of the field. Even then, the remaining vulnerability of the fans demonstrates the constant and inevitable risk of a foul ball that baseball presents.
“Foul balls are a part of the game,” explains Patrick Hilbert, a committed deerfield baseball fan. “It is in the responsibility of the fans to be aware of their surroundings and to be able to protect themselves in light of a hard foul ball.”
Many parents have also shared their disapproval of the fence, alerting the team that when sitting on the bleachers, your eye line is obstructed by the large black bar of the fence
It would be within the baseball team’s best interest as well as the best interest of the campus’ beauty to do away with the imposing “obstructions” that were recently constructed on the field.
We fully comply with the schools obligation to our safety, but the fence is only employed in radical occurrences, and we feel that the team’s direct connection with the field-of-play is one that cannot be sacrificed; even as it attempts to guarantee our safety.