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Diamonds may turn out to be Friends’ best friend

Diamonds may turn out to be Friends’ best friend
Diamonds may turn out to be Friends’ best friend
Polly Zoeller, daughter of the late Gov. O'Bannon, gives a speech about her father and his love for the community. She represented the O'Bannon family for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

A kaleidoscope of colors ‘ ranging from Cincinnati red to L.A. blue, Chicago white to Oakland green ‘ descended upon Gov. Frank O’Bannon Park on Saturday for the dedication of the six new ball diamonds constructed by the Friends of Harrison County Youth.
In addition to board members and sponsors, several hundred players from the youth league, most of them proudly dressed in their team uniforms, joined their parents for the ceremony, which featured ribbon cuttings for the facility, for the two-story fieldhouse (which also serves as the press box and concession stand), for one of the picnic pavilions and for the first pitches on all but one of the diamonds.
Approximately 1,000 people attended the event.
The league formerly played its game at Rice Island in Corydon. The ‘Island’ ‘ as its been called for many years ‘ was like a rose bush: pretty, but sometimes painful.
Little Indian Creek floods, dual-use fields, a poor entryway, port-a-potties and lack of adequate parking were drawbacks to the old facility.
Those worries no longer exist.
Big Indian Creek, where O’Bannon swam as a boy, lines the park to the east, but it would take a flood of massive proportions to reach the diamonds. The spacious bathrooms in the fieldhouse are air-conditioned. And even with soccer games going on next door during the dedication, there was more than enough parking available Saturday.
‘I think the comment Mark Wiseman said was, ‘What a community asset,’ and I think that’s exactly what this is,’ said Andrew Lasky, a past league president. ‘Everything about this project has revolved around the community. From the sponsors to the construction to the players to the parents, this is something the entire community can be proud of. It’s their field.’
Kevin Burton, FHCY president, reiterated that comment at the end of his speech: ‘It’s your field. Enjoy it.’
The day started with prayer by FHCY Treasurer Eric Yates. The colors were presented by Scout Troop 22 and ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ was sung by David Troupe, vice-president of FHCY. Burton delivered a detailed address describing the new place and offering a history of FHCY, and then Polly Zoeller, daughter of the late Gov. Frank O’Bannon, cut the ribbon.
Going ‘around the horn’ for the four diamonds that surround the fieldhouse:
— 18-month-old Alexander Bowman, grandson of the late Carl Uesseler, threw out the first pitch (with substantial help from his father, Marc) on Carl Uesseler Field;
— Chris Frederick tossed the first pitch on First Harrison Bank Field;
— Austin Whittington, 9, came in to relieve his dad, David, on Tyson Field;
— Vaughn Timberlake threw the first pitch ‘ to the backstop ‘ on Community First Bank Field, and
— with all-star Dr. Renee A. Tornatore on the DL with a bum foot, Dr. Brandi Zambelli tossed the first pitch on Harrison County Chiropractic Field.
One diamond, temporarily named, ‘Friends Field,’ is still available for sponsorship.
Bill Gerdon of Gerdon Auto Sales and Brett Wilson of John Jones GM City snipped the ribbon for the fieldhouse. Jim Hodge of Heritage Ford was unable to attend.
The scenic, 16.4-acre baseball and softball facility is a gem. For the first time since the original fields were set up at Rice Island in 1986 (when FHCY was started), the largest field will have just one pitching mound.
At the island, there were four pitching rubbers on one field.
Funds for the purchase of land for the complex was made possible by an investment from the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau. A major grant from the Harrison County Community Foundation funded most of the construction.
Funds from the Lilly Endowment also contributed to the success of the project, the total cost of which exceeds $1 million.
Games are slated to begin April 25.