Louis Bloch Park, home of the Camas-Washougal, Washington Babe Ruth League, comes alive at 75 – just in time for the 2015 season. Camas-Washougal has been a chartered member of Babe Ruth League since 1958, and is one of the longest running Babe Ruth League programs in the country and in Washington State.
Built 75 years ago, Louis Bloch Park is shining brighter than ever. New lights, scoreboard and bleachers have helped shape the ballpark into a community destination for the next 75 years, and beyond.
“Even when I played here 20 something years ago, the lights have always been dim. It was only a matter of time before somebody got hurt,” said Camas-Washougal Babe Ruth President Jaycop Collins.
The ballpark opened September 3, 1940. Its old wooden baseball lights have been up since 1972. Collins recalls evenings when they wouldn’t even turn on. Games were delayed or restarted the next day.
“I first became involved in Babe Ruth Baseball over 48 years ago, in 1967,” said Dave Kuhlman, Vice President for the Camas-Washougal league. “My Babe Ruth home was in Vienna, Virginia. Time and change brought me to Camas and Babe Ruth here. We tried our best to keep our 40-year-old lights operating, but we finally had to make serious changes due to quality of play and safety.”
Kuhlman added, “We are fortunate that 4 out of 5 volunteers for this project have played ball at Louis Bloch, and notable donor Randy Myers from Major League Baseball is also from this area.”
Clark Public Utilities serviced the lights for several years. Communications Service Manager Heather Allmain said it came to a point where the old system needed to be replaced. “This is one of the oldest ballparks in the region. It means a lot to the people of Camas and Washougal,” she said. “Our job was to make people understand the direness of the situation. Our employees are passionate about youth sports. Some had even played on this field when they were young.”
“We gained funding by qualifying the need, and communicating that to like-minded individuals and corporations with sincerity and honesty,” said Kuhlman. “We targeted those entities that were envisioned as potential project partners, and let them know who else was on board. We demonstrated a professional plan, and appealed for the sake of our youth.”
One such partner was The Baseball Tomorrow Fund. After the Camas-Washougal Babe Ruth Board Members went through the application process and presented their project to Cathy Bradley, Executive Director of The Baseball Tomorrow, they received a grant in the amount of $69,540 to install six new Musco Lighting posts around the field.
“The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is proud to support the renovations at Louis Bloch Park,” Bradley stated in a press release. “On behalf of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Association, we thank Camas-Washougal Babe Ruth for providing quality youth baseball programs and facilities and for its efforts to expand opportunities to additional young players.”
Through Babe Ruth League’s partnership with Musco Lighting, Camas-Washougal was awarded one of the four $15,000 grants Musco provides annually to Babe Ruth League programs which can be used for a new lighting system or to refurbish an existing lighting system.
The Baseball T.O.D.A.Y. Foundation also added $10,000.
“This offers a much brighter lighting system that saves energy and provides a safe environment for the kids who play ball here,” Allmain said. “Night games are very special. We are excited to see kids playing ball under these lights for the next 75 years, and beyond.”
Additional donations from the City of Camas, City of Washougal, CalPortland Concrete, Pape’ Machinery, Excavator Rental Services, 20th Century Christenson Electric helped Camas-Washougal purchase a new scoreboard, tractor and bleachers. A dozen volunteers from Clark Public Utilities donated numerous volunteer hours removing the unsafe overhead wires, the old lamps and the 40-year-old wooden poles, so they could install the new Musco Lighting system.
“All in all, we received more than $235,000 in donations,” said Kuhlman. “The Camas-Washougal Babe Ruth 13-15 League has experienced a 250% growth rate over the past few years and plans to add more programs to their league set-up, such as Cal Ripken Baseball.”
Kuhlman added, “This complex was already the gem of Camas and SW Washington. We are determined to create a minor league venue populated by Babe Ruth teams. Our ballpark has always been and is even more now, the shining example of what a Babe Ruth field can look like. Louis Bloch Park is well known in the state for just that. We are again hosting the 13U Babe Ruth State Tournament, and this year the 15U Districts. We also host numerous local and market-wide tourneys each year. We are certain our long standing relationship with the community will continue to grow Babe Ruth Baseball in Camas-Washougal.”
The Camas-Washougal Babe Ruth 13-15 League has experienced a 250% growth rate over the past few years and plans to add more programs to their league set-up, such as Cal Ripken Baseball.
(Excerpts taken from Dan Trujillo’s article dated March 10, 2015. Dan is a staff writer with the Camas-Washougal Post-Record)
Musco Lighting is proud to be a partner of Babe Ruth League as the organization’s official lighting company. As part of the partnership, Musco annually awards four Babe Ruth League programs a $15,000 grant each that can be used for either a new lighting system or to refurbish an existing lighting system.
Qualifying your league for consideration of a lighting grant is easy. First, fill out the BRL/Musco Lighting Grant Application. The application can be found on the BRL website, www.baberuthleague.org or can be obtained by calling BRL Headquarters. Along with the grant application, you must submit a lighting estimate sheet provided by your local Musco Lighting representative by November 30 of each year to quality for the next season. Musco Lighting can be reached toll free at 1-800-825-6030. You may also visit their website at www.musco.com.