Waite baseball coach Danny Clayton makes no bones about it.
The Indians have - and should have - a definite leg up on opponents when they play at their renovated ball field that features a 10-foot grass hill in the outfield.
"It has ambience, and I like the advantage," Clayton said. "We get to practice on it. Other teams come in and they struggle on it. We've seen many visitors fall on it. We made the ballpark unique.
"It's 310 (feet) down the right and left field lines and 355 to the power gap in left, but you have to (hit a home run) up a 10-foot hill and over a six-foot fence. You have to hit it about 380 to hit it out in left-center. Everybody is amazed by it. Leaving the fence up cut out people from cutting across the field during games."
Bob Holland, a Waite grad who played for the Indians from 1970-72, is now a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater and helped lead the charge to get Waite's field renovated.
There had been speculation that a new baseball field would be constructed at Ravine Park, but Holland and others began a fundraising drive to renovate the field that currently sits in the Waite bowl - the same site where the original football stadium once stood.
Clayton, who teaches carpentry at Waite, said his 15 students began renovating the field last spring, working as many as two and a half hours a day.
"We didn't have a time schedule, and some things set us behind," Clayton said. "We'd like to get things finished as quickly as possible. We were going to put the fence in, but I got a temporary position where I had to play administrator at another school and that took about 30 days.
"The community raised enough money where we paid for the fence to get put up. A Toledo police officer, Sue Surgo, and Bob Holland coordinated raising the money. BP and Sun Oil both made pretty good donations, along with local Block Watches and a lot of Waite alumni. Donations were coming in from Texas, California ... Bob had sent letters to all of them and we got a good response."
Waite Athletic Director Bob Utter said the baseball field drains "pretty good for being in a bowl."
"We've had a really wet spring," he said. "When that was a football field, they might have had some type of drainage system there."
Clayton's carpentry class tore out the home dugout and built a temporary dugout with the intention of building a new dugout, a concession area and a press box above a new storage area. Those facilities will cost approximately $6,000 - all of which will come from donations.
"It's an advantage to have a carpentry class to have a project for," Utter said. "We're playing it by ear now, but there is a plan. We had some cinder blocks donated for the dugout by Home Depot."
Instead of planting grass in the infield, Clayton and Holland decided to maintain a $4,000 clay-sand mix infield - for now.
"It just dries so much better," Clayton said. "It looks more professional and it smooths out better. There is less wear and tear than using crushed stone. This is similar to what the Mud Hens and Tigers have. Joe. E. Brown Park and Bowsher and Genoa all have this. Just about all of your better programs will have it."
Clayton said he intends to plant grass in the infield this fall.
"Now that the field is fenced in, it's been pretty much vandal-free," he said. "Putting in grass would be kind of minor. It would be seeding it and, when it grows, cutting it out. We get enough rain that it would stay in good shape so we wouldn't have to worry about a sprinkler system."
Utter said "tons" of people gave donations for the baseball field renovation.
"Some gave lots of money and some gave $25," he said. "I'm never surprised with the Waite alumni and what they can do. We got a nice donation from the Gilbert McGee Scholarship Trust. Gilbert's wife, Karen, gave a very nice donation. We had donations from the Waite Athletic Boosters and the Waite Alumni Association and many, many individuals."
The target date for completion of the ball field is next spring.
"Some other teams and some parents and coaches I know, they say, 'hey, it looks like you have a nice thing going over there,' " Utter said. "When it gets finished it's going to look really nice. It's a nice thing for the kids."
For more information on Waite baseball and the renovated field, visit www.leaguelineup.com/waiteindians.