This article appears in the February issue of High School Today.
Enid, Oklahoma, is a community of about 50,000 people. It is the education, entertainment, business, and oil and gas industry hub for northwest Oklahoma. But there is a diamond in the rough in this town that one would not expect to find – a beautiful state-of-the-art baseball diamond that now hosts the NJCAA Division II College World Series, as well as high school state tournaments, American Legion tournaments, and many other high-profile college, high school and youth events.
An Idea is Born
Enid High School Athletic Director Bill Mayberry and local businessman Todd Humphrey began investigating the possibility of a new ballpark years before the project came to fruition. Land in the Enid downtown floodplain was identified as a possible site, and the land was cleared of existing abandoned buildings. In October of 1996, the City of Enid approved the sale of the property for $15,000. Originally, the facility was to be called Grand Avenue Ballpark, but when potential donors were being identified, a local businessman and his wife stepped up to the plate big time.
Paul, Joan and David Allen
Paul and Joan Allen decided to underwrite the construction of the ballpark as a memorial to their late son David, a former Enid High School and American Legion baseball player. David Allen was only 35 years old when he died in October of 1995 of complications from an auto accident, but his spirit lives on in the ballpark that bears his name. David was an inspiration to the Enid community for his determination after being hit by a drunk driver his freshman year at Trinity University in December of 1978. He would be in a coma for three weeks. Once he was out of the coma, he was incapable of doing anything for himself. The accident changed his life, but the determination and spirit he was known for did not change. He spent the next 17 years regaining the ability to walk, talk and do the simplest things in life. He was eventually able to go to work for the family business – Advance Food Company.
Just as David was no ordinary young man, the ballpark has become an extraordinary venue for the City of Enid. The infield has artificial turf, and the outfield is comprised of TIFF sports natural grass. The stadium itself seats 3,000 and includes two enclosed VIP sections, air-conditioned luxury boxes, a meeting/party room, a press box occasionally frequented by ESPN, a large concession area, two bathroom facilities, a local baseball museum, and a ticket booth. The ballpark is also ADA-accessible. It exemplifies the old-time look, coupled with a memorial theme that contains brick arches outside the stadium (much like some of today’s major league ballparks). Another nice feature is the green chair-back seats that came from the old Baltimore Orioles’ Memorial Stadium. The Orioles were David’s favorite team. After years of planning and months of construction, the field of dreams became a reality on August 4, 1999. The David Allen Memorial Ballpark took on its first major addition in 2006 when a $500,000 ProStar video display board was installed in right field. The scoreboard features a brick archway resembling the arches at the front gate, and there is a permanent sign honoring Enid’s American Legion World Series Championship in 2005.
Focal Point/Gathering Place/Spirit Lifter
Since its dedication in 1999, the David Allen Memorial Ballpark has become a focal point and gathering place for Enid residents. Not only is it a beautiful ballpark that hosts the NJCAA Division II College World Series each year, fills up hotel rooms, and has become an economic boon to the Enid, Oklahoma, community, but it has also become a wonderful place for people to gather for all kinds of events. The ballpark hosts close to 300 games per year, and it also hosts t-ball tournaments, music festivals, movie screenings, concerts, civic rallies, company picnics and fireworks shows. David Allen’s spirit lives on in this magnificent ballpark. It was built with character, vision and memories of Enid baseball traditions. The dedication of the many who had a hand in creating this showplace assures that all who come into the facility cannot help but have their spirits lifted.
Additional information about this outstanding sports venue can be found at: www.davidallenballpark.com