In the history of the Wharton County Junior College Pioneers baseball program, they’ve never played a game on a field that was their own. Since the Pioneers started throwing around baseballs back in the 40s and 50s, every home game they played has been on the Wharton Tigers High School field.
While the Pioneers have been happy to be able to share a field with the Tigers throughout the years, the time has come for a true home field. For the first time in nearly 70 years, Sunday at 1:30 p.m. the Pioneers will officially open Corbett Park, the new home of the baseball team.
“This will be the first home-field baseball game in school history and that makes it special,” Wharton County Junior College Atheltic Director Keith Case said. “Imagine being 65-years old and you’ve bounced from house to house and you finally get your own home. Not only did you get your own home, but you got one of the best in the state. This playing surface is, bar none the best junior college playing surface in the state.”
Throughout the years, even without their own baseball field, the Pioneers have been a top-notch program. Case was the Pioneers head coach for the past six seasons before moving into the athletic director role. In his tenure, not only have baseball players been drafted by major league teams, including Glenn Sparkman from Ganado who was a starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals last season. The Pioneers have had more than 70 athletes leave Wharton to play Division I baseball.
Now the program has a home. The 1.7 million dollar baseball field, privately funded through a donation by Duncan Corbett who is the park’s namesake, has already paid off before a single pitch has been thrown. The Pioneers have 10 Division I baseball players who have transferred to Wharton, including Alec Carr, a University of Texas transfer who had 15 home runs last season which lead all junior college hitters in the state.
“We’re getting recruits that we didn’t get before, just because the (new) facilities,” Case said.
Players have the facilities and cages to work on things and improve every day school is in session. Before the Pioneers had their first practice of the year, you could see players in the batting cages, getting ready for the upcoming season.
“What’s best for the devolvement? A six-week Fall or all Fall,” Case said. “We’re trying to develop them and trying to get them better.”
While the Pioneers have a new home, the goal is the same, make it to Grand Junction, Colorado, the home of the Junior College World Series. In 2016, the Pioneers came a few shy from punching their tickets to Grand Junction.
With the opening of Corbett Park, the Pioneers baseball team officially Sunday will embark on a new journey on their brand new field.