Some Aim to Bring Home Field Renovation

Photo: Derby Field is located on the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Derby Street. Some community members have been trying to demand the renovation of the local field.
Karen Ling/Staff
Derby Field is located on the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Derby Street. Some community members have been trying to demand the renovation of the local field.

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Over 60 members of the Berkeley High School community showed up Tuesday at a district board meeting to demand the renovation of the school's baseball field in honor of a coach who recently died after decades of working with young athletes.

Tim Moellering, remembered by the school community for his dedication to the baseball program and its participants, died of cancer last month after 13 years of gathering support to transform Derby Field on Martin Luther King Jr Way into a multipurpose athletic field with a regulation baseball diamond. The board voted to expedite the refurbishment following public comment about Moellering and the field.

"The need for a regulation ball field, along with all the other amenities that come with Derby Field, is critical," said Berkeley City Councilmember Darryl Moore at the Berkeley Unified School District board meeting. "We cannot put this off another year."

Moore said San Pablo Park in Southwest Berkeley - the off-campus city-owned park where Berkeley High School's varsity baseball team plays home games - contains the city's only regulation field available to young athletes in the city. He asked the board to make Derby Field's renovation a top priority and not to wait until 2015, the year initially picked for the project's commencement.

Talks of memorializing Moellering by naming a baseball field after him began soon after his death in January. Baseball players from the high school wore their red and yellow uniforms during the board meeting and held up small signs during public comments that read "Build Moellering Field NOW!"

"The field we have right now is not good," Berkeley High baseball player Cameron Grigsby said to the board. "We need something a lot better to play on, and this would be the greatest honor for him."

Volunteer coach Jason Young, who graduated from Berkeley High in 1997 and later went on to play major league baseball, said at the meeting that student athletes have a better chance of pursuing a baseball career if they have access to modernized facilities in high school.

"I believe that building this field will bring in more scouts, more university recruiters," Young said. "College coaches won't come to San Pablo Park. That's the truth."

The board recommended that district staff reevaluate all upcoming projects in order to begin the Derby Field plan at an earlier date, according to district spokesperson Mark Coplan. The project would cost about $3 million in funds taken from the Measure I bond proposition passed by Berkeley voters last November.

Superintendent Bill Huyett said Derby Field is not the only project that the district community wants to see completed ahead of schedule, citing the installation of school solar panels and the completion of construction for the high school as examples. He agreed, however, that young athletes would benefit from the new facility and that "the memory of a revered teacher and coach does count."


Jeffrey Butterfield is the lead local schools reporter. Contact him at [email protected]

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