Peggy Bennett, pictured at left, catches a water balloon at an Aug. 22, 1999, celebration at Pleasant Valley BallPark. Elwin Poe, pictured at right, participates in the softball throw at the P.V. BallPark reunion in 1999. — Johnson Publications file photos

The Pleasant Valley Ballpark southeast of Holyoke has many fond memories associated with it. In 1999, a reunion there was full of reminiscing and playing games. Now, almost 20 years later, even that reunion has become a memory. Pictured from left, Linda Statz, Dale Colglazier and Bob Bahler wait in the outfield to mark the distance in a softball throw competition at the reunion. — Johnson Publications file photo

Fate of Pleasant Valley Ballpark in the air

Decades of memories recalled

     For many who have lived in the Pleasant Valley community, the ballpark and community center were the site of frequent social gatherings. From softball and baseball to card parties and baby showers, that plot of just about three and a half acres brought community members together time and again.
     Now, about seven years since the facilities have been used, it’s the community that is being asked to make a decision about what should happen moving forward. On Monday night, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m., a meeting will be held at Highline Electric for just that purpose.
     Should the land and what’s left of the community center and playground equipment be sold? Should it be repaired and put back to use? These are just some of the questions to be addressed at the meeting next Monday.
     Pleasant Valley Ball Club, which changed its name in 2005 to Pleasant Valley Community Center, is a nonprofit corporation. Peggy Bennett, who was the board’s last secretary to be elected, has kept it in good standing with the State as a nonprofit over the years, so there is the option to keep it going if that’s what the community wants. Bennett has been the driving force behind the upcoming meeting and the push to do something with the space.
     According to the organizations’s bylaws, when the club is dissolved, the assets should be converted to cash and 50 percent distributed to the Phillips County Hospital, 25 percent to the Polio Fund and 25 percent to the Red Cross. Clearly the times have changed, and if dissolution is the route chosen by the community, there will be further decisions to be made regarding where the money should go.
     Any person who has donated funds, labor or material in the amount of one dollar or more is considered a member and is entitled to vote.
     It’s been years since the baseball diamond itself was used. The lights have been taken down and all traces of the field are gone. Even after baseball ceased, the community center was often used for meetings and parties, up until late 2009. In December of that year, a pipe froze and burst in the community center, ruining the interior. Today the 24-foot-by-48-foot steel structure has been gutted and remains unused.
     The ballpark, located about 9.25 miles east and 4 miles south of Holyoke, was dreamed up and became a reality in 1951. At the time, baseball was a huge pastime and country ballfields weren’t uncommon. The Pleasant Valley community wanted to give the youth in their area something to do to keep them off the streets of Holyoke.
     The cost to build the park was $1,355.31. The total expenses for the first year, including lights, balls, advertising and coolers, came in at $1,993.26.
     The land it was built on originally belonged to Wayne Martin, who gave a 99-year lease on the property for one dollar per year. The property was deeded to the ballclub in 1977.
     In 1978, the community center was erected, providing a new meeting room, restrooms and a concessions area. The center was funded through the Heginbotham Trust and donations from the community. A new announcer’s stand, a scoreboard donated by First National Bank of Holyoke, lights from the Heginbotham Trust and a PA system donated by Scholl Oil kept the ballpark up to date even after 30 years of action.
     In its prime, the ballpark had games five nights a week. Playing softball and baseball, participants ranged from young children to adults. Over the years, there have been celebrations for landmark years and reunions to bring together old neighbors. With the Oct. 16 meeting nearing, many have been reminiscing about days at the Pleasant Valley facilities, and it will be up to them to determine whether more memories are to be made at the community center in the future.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Historical information about Pleasant Valley Ballpark was collected by Connie Hoffmann for a June 13, 1991, story in the Enterprise.

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