In late January the Town of Paonia leveled most of what was left of the old baseball field at Paonia Town Park. And while it didn't look like much in recent years, the history of the little baseball field goes way back, said Paonia native Ron Rowell. It was, for years, the Paonia High School Eagles' baseball field and a source of pride for the town. "Baseball used to be far bigger 60 or 70 years ago than it is today," said Rowell. "Especially in summer."
For many years, Old-Timers and American Legion Baseball games filled the park on summer evenings. And for many years, said Rowell, who remembers playing baseball there in high school, and later, coaching his own kids at the park, fans watched games from a nice set of wooden bleachers. "It used to be a beautiful field," said Rowell, "but it took a lot of work."
Sometime around 1989, the backstop, with help from a high lift provided by DMEA, was built where the bleachers stood.
The batting cage on the east side of the park was built in the mid-1980s in memory of Dawn Cher'ee Elliott, who in the summer of 1985 was killed in a car wreck at the age of 17. According to her mother, Donna Reedy, Dawn's grandparents, Mary and John Threewit, used the money donated in her memory to build the batting cage.
When Volunteer Park was built out on Mathews Lane, the park was pretty much forgotten, said Rowell. The batting cage grew thick with weeds and vines, and the dugouts began to crumble. Goathead weeds thrived in the dust. In 2011, efforts to revive American Legion baseball in Paonia failed.
The dugouts and batting cage are now gone, and the backstop will be the last thing to go. According to Public Works Director Travis Loberg, DMEA will remove the power lines so that it can be safely removed, and will re-install the lines once it's taken down.
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