The only question to be asked is why wasn't the wonderful Carlo Crispino Stadium at Calvert Hall chosen the National Baseball Field of the Year last year?
The answer, chuckles Calvert Hall baseball coach Lou Eckerl, is that "No one knew about it two years ago. We weren't nominated."
An egregious error at that.
Designed by Ripken Design in conjunction with Whiting-Turner and Ballard Sports and finished two years ago for $1.8 million, it is a pro stadium in miniature. It comes complete with covered grandstands, a beautiful turf playing field and a perfect pitcher's mound.
"The only dirt on that entire field is on the mound," Eckerl said. "If it stops raining we can play. If it's a downpour and it stops, 15 or 20 minutes later we can play. In the two years we've had it we've only been rained out once -- when it never stopped raining."
It's one thing to win an award when a panel of judges picks from a limited number of entries, but this field was chosen from the best of every field around the country. Each district has a chairman who is supposed to poll every single high school team in each of his states to gather information in order to determine a District Field of the Year.
I say "supposed to poll" because if that was done the first year the Calvert Hall stadium was played in, wouldn't someone have nominated it?
"We wouldn't nominate ourselves," said Eckerl, whose team is 53-11 on the field, and has continued an unmatched success story on the surface, claiming five straight MIAA titles and the No. 1 ranking in The Sun's poll four of the past five years, including three straight heading into the coming season. "That would be a little conceited. And others, maybe there was a little jealousy at first. This year, we're part of District 2. It so happened our district chairman was the head baseball coach at Paul VI in Virginia. We played them here last year and he saw how wonderful our field was and nominated us. "
After being nominated, all aspects of the field are judged and the school is asked to send photos from various defined angles (behind home plate, out in center field, etc.), as well as other pictures that best show off the facility. Coaches then vote to determine the district winner.
From there the eight District winners are presented at the NHSBC National meeting, the photos are laid out and voted upon by the district commissioners and the field with the highest point total is declared the winner.
"I feel really fortunate to have this field for our team to play on," Eckerl said. "And I express that to our players, reminding them how fortunate we are to have the support, to have people come forward to put up the money so that we can have something like this field get accomplished. We're really blessed.
"I think our players will really see that when they move on to college and start playing on other baseball fields."
There aren't a lot of fields like Carlo Crispino Stadium, that's for sure. And if some other field wins next year, Calvert Hall should demand an investigation.
"I will say there hasn't been any problems with this field," Eckerl said. "We really put a lot of thought into it, really took our time. No one comes off this field saying, it should have this or that.
"I really think we got it perfect. The sightlines are good and it is a phenomenal place to play."