BISBEE — Disney, Home Shopping Network and the Cleveland Indians are coming to Bisbee.
Well, not quite.
But each organization is sending in a decorated piggy bank to be sold at a silent auction during the Bisbee High School Alumni and Stakeholder reception on Sept. 29. The money generated will help restore historic Warren Ballpark, an iconic stadium in Southern Arizona’s most iconoclastic town and one of the oldest sports facilities in the country.
The stadium is in need of a new wooden fence that, including labor, is expected to cost nearly $100,000. As of Monday, BHS has raised $1,200 in donations. A silent auction of the painted pigs should help.
“Because of the historical value — Bisbee is a tourism town — I think it’s important for it to look good,” school board president Carol Loy said.
Warren Ballpark has undergone minor but continuous repairs throughout the years — the restrooms were remodeled three years ago — but Bisbee Unified School District Superintendent Tom Woody said the 25-year-old wooden fence is in need of an overhaul. Yearly wear-and-tear has caused problems, and this year’s monsoon caused even greater strain on the fence. Floodwaters have already forced a portion of the fence behind the football scoreboard to collapse.
“Our fence is in horrible shape, and it has been for years and years,” Loy said.
Todd Hubbel, board member of the Friends of Warren Ballpark, is the project manager on the fence renovation. He estimates the ballpark will need 1,200 new boards for the wooden fence. Because the ballpark is a historic landmark, the new fence — which includes the outfield wall and the field’s perimeter — must be made of wood.
Crews will keep segments that are in good shape, and replace the rest with dry-kilned picket that won’t shrink or warp in the sun. They are expected to paint the entire wall to match. Stadium officials are working with Tucson-based Canyon Fence on the project.
“This is the biggest project — construction project — besides building a building in Bisbee and more,” Hubbel said. “This is a big project. I would say this project would put the Warren Ballpark on the map of people that have never heard about the Warren Ballpark.”
Woody is focused on the stadium’s historical aspect.
“The other thing about the fence is that you want to maintain the historical piece, which is the wooden fence that then has to be painted and maintained,” Woody said. “What we would like to see is enough from this fundraiser to not only totally replace the wooden fence, but then be able to have money to maintain that better than what we have.”
Loy’s granddaughter, a jeweler in Georgia, inspired her to do the piggy bank silent auction. Her granddaughter recently decorated a piggy bank with jewels for an American Cancer Association fundraiser, and Loy fell in love with the idea.
Now, her granddaughter is decorating another piggy bank to send to Bisbee.
“I thought this is kind of a cool idea, so I followed up on it,” Loy said.
Loy started on a plan to help rebuild the fence in June. Originally, the silent auction was going to take place at Rock Our Schools, the district’s annual fundraiser for student activities. But Loy thought it would do best as a standalone fundraiser. Pictures of the different pigs will be posted online; the banks will be placed on display in a local business in an attempt to draw interest to the event.
The alumni will also be selling bricks for the Memorial Wall, which BHS athletic director Mike Frosco started as a baseball fundraiser. Proceeds will go toward the ballpark.
Warren Ballpark was built in 1909. The clubhouse and grandstands are made of adobe and were added in 1937. The list of “firsts” and “onlys” are too long to list: Warren Ballpark is the oldest continuously-used ballpark in the nation and is home to one of the longest-running high school football rivalries in the country (Bisbee vs. Douglas). It was the home of the Black Sox, a baseball team led by four of the eight Chicago White Sox players who were accused of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series.
And that’s not all. According to local lore, Babe Ruth even played at Warren Ballpark.
“I haven’t been able to prove it, but I’m working on it,” Mike Anderson, of Friends of Warren Ballpark, said.
But all history aside, it is presently used for Bisbee High School baseball and football, other sporting events and multiple city events, like the upcoming Mariachi Fest in October.
Anderson even serves as a tour guide for people who want to visit the ballpark, including alumni.
“I get people coming back here all the time and they tell me what this place meant to them,” Anderson said. “‘I played baseball here. I played football here. I graduated here. I did this, that and everything here.’ It tugs at people’s hearts. It’s really cool. It’s got a real feel, real emotional.”