Dunwoody Senior Baseball players and fans said farewell Oct. 21 to the ball fields at Dunwoody Park on Roberts Drive where the league has called home for the past 42 years.
The field house and concession stand are set to be torn down in the next few weeks as the DeKalb County School District readies to build the new Austin Elementary School that is slated to open in the fall of 2019.
Dunwoody Senior Baseball will be moving its league play next spring to new fields now under construction by the city at Peachtree Charter Middle School and adjacent to Brook Run Park.
The land swap between the city and DeKalb Schools was approved last year.
The new fields, owned by the city, will be shared with Peachtree Charter Middle School. The fields will be artificial turf with dirt mounds. One field will be 315-feet all the way around while the second field will be 365-feet to center field.
“Forty-two is a very special number in baseball,” said John Crawford, treasurer of DSB and the namesake for the upper field, recalling the number worn by Jackie Robinson. “With a heavy heart we are leaving these fields … but once we saw the plans for the new school, we said that’s it, we’re leaving.”
DSB President Jerry Weiner noted that Crawford and Pat Sadler, who died several years ago and is the namesake of the lower field, helped create a league where thousands of young men, from ages 13-29, could play baseball.
“We will always remember this place fondly,” Weiner said.
Sadler’s son, Andy, and widow, Cathy, were on hand for the farewell ceremony. Andy Sadler, 30, who coaches in the league, said “it has been a pleasure to call this place a second home.”
“I know my dad would have been very happy to see the spirit of this place has lived on,” he said.
Weiner introduced Austin Elementary School Principal Ann Culbreath, PTO co-president Nina Arnold and school council member Christy Kramer as the “new owners of the fields” and presented them with DSB baseball caps.
Culbreath thanked DSB as well as the city and DeKalb School District for coming together to find a location for the new Austin Elementary School and said a groundbreaking is expected next month.
Members of the Diablos, the Dunwoody Senior Baseball travel team for boys ages 13-15, were also on hand to say goodbye to the fields.
“I loved practicing on this field, getting some bad hops,” said Ashton Smith, 13.
Connor Haynes, 13, played on the fields for two years. “I’m said to see it go,” he said. “I had my first home run on the lower field. But I’m really excited about the new [fields].”
Bryce Bracco, 13, said “it feels really good to celebrate the park.”
“I made my first dive play [diving to catch a line drive] here at second base,” he said. “But I can’t wait to play on the new fields because I love turf.”