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Build it and they will come

By Jonas Terrado

The Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium could end up returning to its old glory if plans to renovate the historic ballpark pushes through after the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

Rizal Baseball Stadium (MB Photo / Rio Deluvio)

Rizal Baseball Stadium (MB Photo / Rio Deluvio)

Philippine Amateur Baseball Association President Chito Loyzaga said pertinent details will be up for discussion with the Philippine Sports Commission as the baseball federation hopes to see the 85-year-old stadium get a much-needed facelift.

“It’s part of the overall renovation of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex,” said Loyzaga. “We should know when the PSC plans to begin the renovation after the SEA Games.”

Loyzaga didn’t reveal any details but PABA has already planned on placing the padding walls used during the baseball competitions held at The Villages in Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Whether other improvements such as an improved improved, additional flood lights, among others, remain a question mark.

The ballpark stood silent during the Games as the roar of the crowd were mostly heard at the nearby Coliseum and Football Stadium and the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

Organizers opted to hold baseball and softball games in Clark where six fields and several batting cages and bullpen were available.

It was complete opposite to the country’s hosting of the 2005 Games when fans filled the Rizal ballpark as the Philippines beat Thailand for the gold.

That 2005 moment was among the recent anniversaries of the stadium.

New York Yankee greats Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth hit the first two homers of the ballpark in Dec. 1934, feats that are still recognized with their names placed above the outside walls.

Lefty Viray’s dominance on the mound enabled the Philippines to win the inaugural Asian Baseball Championship in Dec. 1954. The country has never ruled the continental tournament since.

The ballpark suffered extensive damage during World War II but was refurbished before the country’s independence from the United States in 1946.

The Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals paid the ballpark a visit in 1955 and 1958, respectively, were they played a series against a Philippine selection.

Non-baseball events were also held, most notably Rolando Navarette’s knockout of Chung Il Choi for the WBC super featherweight title in Jan. 1982.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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