The Maur Hill-Mount Academy baseball program has a shiny new field to call home thanks to the help of several special people and businesses. The transformation of the baseball field has been nothing short of miraculous. The former MH-MA field has
been unplayable for the past several years and practices took place in different parts of campus or at the Atchison Sports Complex, when available. Now the team will have a permanant place on campus to call home everyday.
Donations for the field began with former Major League baseball player and former Kansas City Royals captain Mike Sweeney and grew from there. Sweeney is a five-time MLB All-Star and one of baseball's good guys. His Catholic faith and example inspired many during his years in a Royals uniform. Sweeney is close friends with MH-MA President Phil Baniewicz, and he and his wife, Shara, responded positively when shown the current state of the field in 2011. Their initial donation started the process of transforming the field and they recently gave another contribution to continue to process.
Local businesses such as Urban Lawncare, Mo-Kan Concrete, Blish-Mize, Hundley Construction, and Gerber Electric donated time and materials to construct new dugouts and the field. Parent Charlie Kramer donated hours to help form the field and workout areas. Robert Mason '95, a professional masonry expert, built both dugouts after the concrete was poured. Many of the school's parents, players, and staff helped with the dugouts and field. Science teacher Steve Murdie helped Coach Baniewicz raise the level of the infield by transporting over 140 tons of top soil from the back of the campus to the field. New foul poles were constructed by Mike Stec '79 and the Benedictine College baseball team helped install the infield dirt. Ron Urban '76 gave not only his personal time, but his company's to install an irrigation system and make sure the new sod grew properly.
There is still work to be done, but it now sits as a shining example of Raven class for everyone that drives down Highway 73. MH-MA is extremely grateful for everyone who has contributed to building this new home for our Ravens.
The "transformation" in pictures
Old field from home plate Old mound in 2010 Original dugouts Players take down old dugouts
Robert Mason builds the dugouts Parent Bob Scott Ron Urban & his staff install sprinklers Gerber Electric puts in electric
Install of irrigation and field prep Players paint the dugouts Final painting of dugouts BC baseball team lends a hand
Players & Coaches install sod Students turn out for "sod party" New foul poles are installed Bird's eye view of new field
By Logan Jackson
It has been a long time, but the Maur Hill-Mount Academy baseball team is finally going to have a place to call home.
The Ravens nearly have their home field complete, with the help of several volunteers and donors. “I don’t think it’s been used for games in about four years,” MH-MA President and head baseball coach Phil Baniewicz said. “It had gotten into really bad shape. It was unusable.”
MH-MA was almost able to use the field for a couple games this past spring, but a few problems prevented that from happening. “The plan was to see if we could use it for a couple games this season,” Baniewicz said. “We wanted the seniors that helped work on stuff to be able to play on it. That just didn’t work.”
Instead, the Ravens played their home games in two different locations – Benedictine College and the Atchison Sports Complex.
MH-MA practices were also difficult to schedule, as the field wasn’t even usable to take infield on. “That’s exactly it – there was no place to call home,” Baniewicz said. “That’s what was hard. Even practices were difficult. We could come and hit here a little bit. We couldn’t use it for taking groundballs or anything with defense. We had to go to the sports complex, but we could only use that at certain times. We were very limited.”
The field was covered in grass and dirt before the cleaning process began. Baniewicz said all of that grass had to be killed, however, before the field could be worked on. “We came in and just killed everything,” he said. “We tore everything up. I thought we could maybe keep the outfield, but the people that helped us said it was just weeds so we should kill it.” Certain spots on the field also had to be raised and leveled. Water was gathering too easily at those spots. “It was so low, that water sat when it rained,” Baniewicz said. “It would never dry. If it rained the slightest bit, it stayed muddy forever. A teacher and myself trucked in a bunch of topsoil to raise the infield part up. I don’t remember how many tons of topsoil we brought in.”
A combination of MH-MA students, parents, alumni and other community volunteers then started to work on making improvements.
Baniewicz said Mike Stec made the foul poles, and Blish Mize donated those poles to the Ravens. With the help of Hundley Construction, the baseball team put the poles in the ground. Those were just a few of the companies that helped support the baseball field improvements. “The list goes on and on,” Baniewicz said. “The amount of people that helped has been tremendous.” Those helpers also laid sod, created and painted the dugouts and started work on the two bullpens. “We ended up having like a sod party with full classes coming out and helping us,” Baniewicz said. “There were full classes in their uniforms helping us. It was classic.
The field had two features that were professionally done. The entire infield was laser leveled, and a professional also built the mound. Everything else, though, was done without professional help – and Baniewicz has plans for more. “We’re getting to it,” he said. “There will be a 3-foot high fence in front of the dugouts. The bullpens still need some work. The gray won’t stay. It’s aglime, and we could keep it, but I don’t think it looks good with the grass.” Instead of the aglime, the field will feature turface on the basepaths. Baniewicz said the turface is much easier to slide on, and is easier to maintain. “Turface is a special field conditioner,” he said. “It absorbs water, and it never breaks down. Regular dirt, with rain or dust, it will break down. The only thing you have to worry about is that it blows away.”
While Baniewicz said there is still a lot of work to be done, he’s happy with the field situation right now. “It’ll mean so much to have a home field,” he said. “You want the kids to be proud of it as well. “I want everything at Maur Hill-Mount Academy to be classy. That means the baseball field should have class. Before it was an eyesore.”
A Special Thanks to:
People and businesses who helped with the project
Those who financially supported the field
|Urban Lawncare||Mike & Shara Sweeney|
|Mo-Kan Concrete||P.J. Keeley, Tim Keeley, Hank Keeley|
|Hundley Construction||Randy Schrick|
|Gerber Electric||Kevin and Theresa McDermed|
|Charlie Kramer||Phil & Lisa Baniewicz|
L & L Construction
|Benedictine College baseball team|
|MH-MA baseball team, parents, and maintenance staff|
Maur Hill - Mount Academy is a Catholic, international, college preparatory, boarding and day school located in Atchison, Kansas. Founded in 1863 by the Benedictine brothers and sisters, MH-MA provides a well-respected education to students from across the country and internationally in a safe, supportive, college prep environment.