The baseball players at Father Judge High School love their new artificial turf field.
Formerly, the Crusaders played their games at McArdle Recreation Center.
Now, the home field is across the street from the school at Ramp Playground. It opened recently, and Judge played a few games there this spring.
“We get better hops and no bad bounces, and the mound is better,” said sophomore pitcher Dominic Vivino.
“You can slide and don’t have to worry about getting hurt,” said sophomore center fielder Dan Naftulin.
Judge’s season is over. The Crusaders lost in the playoffs to archrival Archbishop Ryan.
Still, freshmen such as Ryan O’Neill and Sam Naftulin are looking forward to three more years playing on the field.
There are dugouts, bullpens, on-deck areas, bleachers and a scoreboard.
The highlight so far was a home run by Corey Kreamer off the scoreboard in left field in a game against Lansdale Catholic.
The players are eager to play a full season next year on the field.
“It’s convenient. We don’t have to drive anywhere,” said sophomore Austin Mikula.
“It’s on campus. It’s easier for students to come to the games,” said sophomore Mike Taffe.
City officials and the Father Judge community recently hosted a grand-opening ceremony for the baseball field and a multi-purpose field that will be home to soccer, lacrosse, rugby and JV and freshman football games and varsity football practices.
The multipurpose field features hash marks, yard lines, goal posts, bleachers, end zones and a scoreboard in Father Judge blue for football practices and games.
The $2.8 million project was a joint venture of Friends of Father Judge High School Inc., the city Department of Parks and Recreation and the office of recently retired City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski. The property has new lighting and fencing, and some sidewalks have been repaired.
The two fields replace three baseball fields and a football field.
Bill St. Clair, chairman of the Friends of Father Judge, joked that the fields were known as the “Dust Bowl” because of the amount of dirt that was kicked up during use.
The baseball field is named Krajewski Family Field. The scoreboard is named in honor of Pat McGonigal, a contributor to the project.
The multipurpose field is named Clark Family Field in honor of Ed Clark, a 1978 Judge graduate who went on to play quarterback at TCU and continues to support his former high school. The scoreboard is named for St. Clair, a 1975 grad who owns the accounting and financial consulting firm CPA Solutions.
St. Clair said the Friends group received great support from alums.
“Judge guys are leaders,” he said.
The Rev. James E. Dalton, principal at Judge, blessed the fields and offered prayers. Among those in attendance were former longtime Judge coaches Whitey Sullivan (football) and Joe McDermott (baseball); Mike DiBerardinis, commissioner of the city Department of Parks and Recreation, and Councilman Bobby Henon, who said the fields were university quality.
Krajewski used giant scissors to cut the ribbon to officially open the fields.
The Rev. Joseph Campellone, president of the school, said the fields are another way that Judge tries to offer a private school experience at an archdiocesan price. The school has spent $30 million in the last 10 years on various improvements.
“This is a great day,” Campellone said.
The school president gave much of the credit to Brian King, the school’s director of advancement.
“He single-handedly worked all the deals to make this happen,” he said.
Campellone is grateful for the support of the city and the alumni, and he urged future graduates to support their alma mater.
“You need to give back. Life isn’t a spectator sport,” he said.
Seravalli Contractors Inc. performed the work.
St. Jerome CYO and Crispin Gardens Athletic Club will be among the local schools and organizations that will continue to be able to use the fields.
The facility, at Rowland and Solly avenues in Holmesburg, will remain named in memory of James J. Ramp, a police officer from nearby Arthur Street who was killed in 1978 in a showdown with the radical group MOVE in Powelton Village. The officer’s son, Jim, and his family were in attendance at the ceremony.
The remainder of the playground will stay the same. It includes basketball courts, play equipment and a foot hockey rink.
“This was a fantastic collaboration between neighbors, the school and the city,” said Al Taubenberger, president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. “The fields will dramatically help our neighborhood.”
Father Judge is planning a Homecoming weekend for early October centered around the new fields, and Campellone promised more work is coming inside and outside the building.
“We’re going to continue to work to keep Judge the greatest school in the archdiocese,” he said. ••EndFragment