For the fifth consecutive year, Harold Broughton and his long-time employees, Bill Bond, Glen Carmichael, Wayne Rule, Efran Luna, Karen Anderson and Sito Vigil, have provided the Hi-Quality Packing Facility, located at 215 Silver Street, Delta, to the community baseball players for winter workouts.
Once the fruit packing season is over, they are ready for winter baseball.
Bond pulls the stored baseball equipment from somewhere in the plant — the "Iron Mike" pitching machine, portable pitching mound, and the many donated carpets from Guthries, which are used to protect the packing plant equipment. Current and former Delta High School players set up the hitting cage net, lighting, the pitching mound and place the carpets where they are needed for protection.
Inside the shed, pitching, hitting, conditioning and instruction are available beginning during the school Christmas break. The focus is on middle and high school players. However, former players playing in college or in the pros have utilized the facility while home for the holidays.
This voluntary program is about improving individual baseball skill, staying in shape, and having fun. Probably every young baseball player's dream is to have an opportunity to play at the collegiate or professional level.
Some former Delta players who have participated in the winter workouts over the years, with some going on to have opportunities to play at the collegiate or higher levels, include Blake Carlquist, Curtis and Rich Englehart, Jack and Bill Helmsing, Steve Morales, Cody Hinchman, Chris Rider, Jeremy Russell, Cory Ottinger, Chris Wilson, Luke Oeltjenbruns, Luke Schmalz, Brenton Hines, Ric Kendrick, David Henrie, Jacen Davis, Ethan Kraai, Austin Watson, Garren Atchley, Nolan Brittain, Matt Anderson, Nate Trujullo, Michael Patton and Christian Kathrein.
Wilson and Henrie played at Trinidad CC on the collegiate level, and both are pitching professionally in the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs organizations. Wilson was drafted by the Giants and has pitched in the organization for five years, playing last year in the AA Eastern League. Wilson remembers the fun he had working out at "The Shed" with his high school buddies, getting his arm in shape, and taking a few "swats" at the baseball.
Credit is given to the winter workouts for helping Wilson enhance his baseball skills and helped him earn an athletic scholarship to play for Trinidad CC.
Wilson is at "The Shed" most evenings where he is available to provide pitching instruction, throwing and batting practice, and share his baseball eperience and knowledge with the younger players. Wilson assisted Austin Watson with his pitching this past Christmas holiday. They worked together daily until Watson returned to Ouchita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., where he is playing on a baseball scholarship.
Many supporters of baseball in this community have assisted in organizing this project. For the past 13 years, Gregg Helmsing has spearheaded this benefit for the local baseball players. In the past he has arranged indoor facilities at both the Ahlberg packing plant and Brent Hines' onion shed. He has also arranged and sponsored many trips to St. George, Utah, for a February U18 baseball tournament.
The players face live competition and play on green grass long before their high school season begins here in Colorado.
Dave Watson has furnished his pitching machine, batting cage net, balls, and his outdoor facility when the weather is good, for the benefit of all kids.
Last year, Marty Rover, the Delta High School baseball coach, loaned the high school's unused and broken pitching machine. Since then, it has been refurbished and is now throwing thousands of pitches in "The Shed." Mike Boyd also provided his batting cage net and Helmsing has furnished a new net and balls.
For the past seven years, Jim Ward has been assisting the kids in becoming better baseball players. Ward is a three-time ('58, '59, '60) Omaha College World Series pitcher with the University of Arizona (2012 NCAA champions) and had a 19-year professional career with the L.A. Dodgers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Athletics and the Oakland A's. Ward was also a former Houston Astro major league area scout.
"The Shed" is a free facility and is open at 5 p.m. daily during the winter season, and may be opened at various time with special arrangements.
This investment in the baseball youth of our area is made possible through the generosity and kindness of Harold Broughton and his staff.