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Farewell, Hartman: After 22 seasons, the Wolverines play their last regular-season game on their field of dreams
The Friday Harbor baseball team lit up the scoreboard with 34 runs in just 10 innings and closed out the regular season with back-to-back victories Saturday at home against an under-equipped and overmatched Shoreline Christian squad.
But the story of Saturday’s doubleheader wasn’t really about the action on the field; the Crusaders haven’t put up much of a fight on the baseball diamond as of late.
It was, rather, about the field itself.
Saturday marked the last regular-season game at Hartman Field for the Wolverines. Not just for this season, but forever.
The bats, the balls, the mitts, the helmets — all of it must be gathered up and carried away to make way for the expansion plans of St. Francis Church, which owns the field and has allowed the high
school baseball team, as well as the local Little League, uninterrupted use of the field the past 20 years.
The church plans to build a fellowship hall beginning sometime this spring and will need to use the field to accommodate parking and stormwater retention.
Mike Nash, a member of the St. Francis building committee, expressed regret in an earlier interview that the Wolverines will have to move from Hartman Field.
“The new fellowship hall won’t infringe on the field, but the parking and water retention areas will. There’s no way around that,” Nash said in a mid-December interview. “I would have hoped the ball field could have stayed, but it can’t.”
Saying “so long” is no easy feat for Head Coach Rich Warin, whose tenure spans 16 of the 22 seasons that Hartman Field has been the Wolverines’ home field. Saturday’s doubleheader was one giant step closer to the final goodbye. (The Wolverines will likely host a District 1 playoff game today at Hartman Field).
“Except for the loss of family or a loved one, it's probably the saddest day of my life,” Warin said.
The high school baseball team has done more than thrive during its tenure at Hartman Field. It’s excelled. The Wolverines have gone from a patchwork program to a perennial playoff contender and a fixture at the 1A state tournament since the first squad took the field back in 1989. Doug Guard was head coach in four of the team’s first five years.
“If you go to any high school baseball game, Friday Harbor always has the biggest crowd,” Guard said. “I think that’s partly because of Hartman Field’s location. It’s a community centerpiece. I don’t know how many times I take Marguerite just so I can drive by the field and watch the guys playing.”
The 2010 Wolverines made the most of this historic regular-season finale. Alex Jangard belted his sixth home run of the year. Tanner Buck gave up just three base hits in notching another win on the mound. Senior Parker Lawson cracked an RBI double that one-hopped against the 363-foot fence in centerfield and then took the mound for the first pitching assignment of his four-year prep career, and tallied a strikeout along with a three-up, three-down performance. Senior Justin “J.J.” James pitched an inning of relief as well.
“It was fun to see Parker getting to pitch, and J.J. too,” Warin said.
With Saturday’s sweep, the Wolverines closed out their 20-game regular season schedule with 12 consecutive wins and improved to 14-1 in league play and 16-4 overall. They claimed a sixth consecutive Northwest 1A/2B League championship along the way.
Though Hartman Field is no longer an option, high school Athletic Director Rod Turnbull said it’s uncertain where the baseball team will play or where it will practice in 2011. It’s unclear whether the Carter Avenue ball fields, the Wolverines' prospective home, will be ready come next spring, he said.
In the worst-case scenario, he said, the team would play all of its games on the road if it has no home come next year.
“It’s a bit up in the air right now,” Turnbull said. “But the program isn’t going away, that’s for sure.”