Photo provided by Mr. Bud Wilde - personal collection. | PICO Field circa. 1919
THE IRONMEN'S HISTORY @ PICO FIELD
During the 1900s, many towns had their own ball clubs and Parkesburg, Pa was no different. Horace Beale Jr, President of the local Parkesburg Iron Company and sports enthusiast, invested in a ballpark that met Major league standards. His team would play host to greats like Babe Ruth, Ty Cob,Casey Stengel, and the 1919 World Champion Cincinnati Reds and many more. Beale entered into an industrial league where they played the New York, Baltimore, and Camden Dry Docks, Bethlehem Steel, Klein Chocolates, and many more. He would also play various teams in the Negro leagues as well as previously mentioned Major League teams like the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics & Phillies, Boston Redsox, and more.
Photo provided by Mr. Bud Wilde - personal collection. | "The Argument" Baltimore Dry Docks visiting the Iron Men; circa 1919
Photo provided by Mr. Bud Wilde - personal collection. | Swinging for the fences during a home game. Circa. 1920
In 2016, nearly 100 years after Mr. Beale's semi pro team recorded their final out, The South Eastern Pennsylvania Travel Baseball Association (SEPTBA) was formed to give youth in the Chester, Lancaster, and Delaware county areas a league to compete in. These teams are primarily made up of the outstanding players from each area's little league programs and those that want to propel their game to the next level. They spend nearly 9 months out of the year training in the winter and playing from April through November. The overall goal is to teach the game the way it was meant to be played. Learning baseball skills is essential, but second only, to building character and sportsmanship. SEPTBA’s motto of “Gentlemen First, Ball Players Second” is so important for player development and teaches players about respect and dignity along with being a good member of the community. The SEPTBA, now heading into its 5th season, has grown from 11 teams to 43 teams and growing, encompassing three counties and two states.. We currently serve players ages 8-13 and have over 530 players league wide.
For the last several years the fields at Minch Park, were used by a local league that has since closed due to the lack of membership. The SEPTBA approached the borough to seek a permanent home for their teams and were welcomed with open arms and quickly began work on the fields. We have already installed new bases and underground anchors for two different size playing fields, built two new permanent pitching mounds, and created wider base paths on both fields.
The goal is to convert the upper field back to the way it appeared in 1921, complete with the 90 ft base distances as in high school, college, and beyond, grandstands, press box, dugouts, and more. This would provide SEPTBA players in grades 7-12, a place to play and would allow semi pro teams and minor league teams to visit town, just like they did in the 1900’s. The bottom field, built many years after the days of the Ironmen, will be more modernized and built for players 8-12years old. An initial estimated cost for all three phases is around $200,000.
The SEPTBA is looking for partners to assist in a 3 – Phase restoration project.
Phase I is nearly complete after hundreds of volunteer hours from local coaches to get the fields playable. Phase I items remaining include: water being reconnected to both the upper and lower fields and run for a future concession stand. A deep swell formed from years of neglect, carnival traffic, etc. in the upper field’s left field area also needs filled and leveled to make it safe to play on.
Phase II includes two (2) simple lean-to type dugouts for the lower field to protect players from the sun and elements during game play. It also encompasses safety netting on the first base side of the upper field, running along Gay street, as well as the back of the lower field near home plate. This netting will protect fans from foul balls, but more importantly traffic on Gay Street and surrounding homes and parked vehicles. We would like to make a permanent parking lot for the baseball fields in either the outfield or between Gay and Brandt streets. Wrapping up Phase II would be a concession stand erected between the two fields.
Phase III completes the project by modernizing the lower field with press box, electronic scoreboard, and sound system for announcing games. It would also install batting cages in the outfield for teams to use while warming up before games. The upper field would see a replica of the 1921 grandstands rebuilt, press box, dugouts, and bases and field converted to 90-foot base paths as it was in 1921.
The SEPTBA hosts teams throughout the week for practices and games, and league games every weekend, as well as league sponsored tournaments throughout the season, which runs from March through November. We are designated as a 501c3 non profit organization, and all donations are tax deductible. Our leagues website is if you’d like to learn more about our league. We also look to hold youth baseball camps, vintage baseball festivals, tournaments, and more throughout the coming years. We hope that you will join our team. Thank you on behalf of our 500+ players!