If it’s baseball, it must be Spring…or is it the other way around?

Pal-Riv BB CollageIt seems for as long as anyone remembers, and farther back than that, Riverton has loved its baseball.

Pages here and in the Gaslight News have detailed Riverton’s rich baseball tradition which dates to the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and possibly earlier. Recent improvements in the playing field and grandstand at Riverton Memorial Park open a new chapter in Riverton history as the Riverton Athletic Association tries out its refurbished digs on Opening Day, April 12, 2014.

Grandstand Sept. 2011 - April 2014
Grandstand Sept. 2011 – April 2014

Even so, we must acknowledge the achievements of past generations and realize that the loss of such a familiar touchstone of one’s youth might yet cause a nostalgic twinge, no matter how improved the venue.

Enjoy our virtual scrapbook of opening day photos and commentary by my former Riverton School teaching partner, Mrs. Susan Dechnik.

scrapbook coverClick on the cover at left for the PowerPoint slides or here for the faster downloading PDF file.

Contribute your remembrances of the old grandstand, regale the younger generation with a bit of Riverton baseball lore, or tell us JMc8your impressions of the new grandstand and opening day.

– John McCormick

From across the miles, Gary R. Weart writes:

Great to see that the grandstand has beeen renovated. I remember riding bikes there in the 50’s and 60’s because it was a nicer facility than we had in Palmyra. We used to play pick-up games on that field. The wall of the grandstand was also great for “pepper,” as we didn’t have to chase the ball. Sometimes we stood at home plate and played a game “backwards” by trying to hit the ball up into the seats by lifting it just over the fence allowing it to fall in the seats for a “homerun.” We could also record an out on defense by catching the ball off the fence. A ball hit over the grandstand was recorded as an out. It was sort of a game involving bat control. We could play a game of 9 innings with just two people. Needless to say, I have many great memories of spending many hours at that old grandstand.

I also heard from a source that prefers to remain anonymous that it was a great place to make out.

The wettest summer on record dampens construction deadlines

Grandstand construction rained out today
Grandstand construction rained out today again

Looks like we’re in a rut.

With almost an inch of rain falling in Moorestown, the nearest weather station, our weather for August first may continue this trending pattern of wet weather for the rest of the summer.

According to NOAA‘s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s) National Weather Service this has been the wettest summer on record in the Philadelphia region. Official climate records for Philadelphia date back to 1872.

How many times have you heard someone compare our weather to Florida’s recently?

Blue skies and fair weather mean meeting project timelines
Blue skies and fair weather mean meeting project timelines

Although today was a washout, that was not the case yesterday as courses of cinderblock walls rose to trace the outline of Riverton’s new grandstand.

I have stalked, er… visited the crew so often, they may soon get me a union card.

Through summer heat and mud, Mark (r.) and his nephew Korey have toiled to build Riverton’s new grandstand.

Some days have had more or fewer workers depending on the task at hand, but this pair have worked most days under the searing sun of several heat waves as well as laboring ankle-deep in the mud rendered by these frequent rainstorms.

The current projects page of the J.H. Williams Enterprises, Inc. website displays a 16-picture slideshow of the work that company is doing. Some of their photos show building milestones that I missed when I recorded the construction progress here.

What are your thoughts on the demolition of the old grandstand or the anticipation of getting a new one? – John McCormick

Work progresses on Riverton’s new grandstand

Riverton Grandstand Sept. 17, 2011
Riverton Grandstand Sept. 17, 2011
1954 Riverton Little League, picture credit: Benjamin Percival
1954 Riverton Little League, picture credit: Benjamin Percival

Longtime residents of Riverton will recognize this photo of a structure which generations of area families came to think of as an integral part of the Riverton landscape.

 

Now gone, the Riverton Grandstand witnessed not only countless league baseball games played by adults and children, but it also served many years as the backdrop for Riverton School Field Day events, and other community activities.

May Queen ceremony - photo credit Pam Deitz
May Queen ceremony – photo credit Pam Deitz

Just the reminder of it can evoke strong memories of one’s life milestones passed within sight of the iconic landmark. Countless friendships forged there have outlived its demolished cinderblock walls.

 

1938 Riverton Athletic Assn. Baseball Team - picture credit Francis C. Cole
1938 Riverton Athletic Assn. Baseball Team – picture credit Francis C. Cole

So it was not without much debate and study of alternatives that Borough Council decided the best course was to raze the deteriorated Grandstand earlier this year and build a new one.

 

New Grandstand groundbreaking, April 13, 2013
New Grandstand groundbreaking, April 13, 2013

HSR members followed developments in the September 2011 Gaslight News and local newspaper, and occasional updates have appeared on this website here, and here.

The new grandstand scheduled for completion in late September, holds the promise of again becoming a venue for many future athletic events and Borough functions. Rising in the same footprint as the original, it may also soon help build some new memories as well as become a symbol of community pride that echoes the legacy of its predecessor.

These recent snapshots illustrate the progress of construction thus far and hint at the considerable scope of the job.

Please add your recollections about the original structure or your thoughts on the new one to this growing account of past and present information on Riverton’s Grandstand. – John McCormick