NEW CASTLE —
There wasn’t an official baseball field in Bessemer in the late 1950s.
So Stan Grebenz and his friends changed that. And Eagles Field became the center of their lives for a few summers.
“Most of the boys in town loved to play baseball, but we needed our own place,” Grebenz, 67, recalled.
A man donated 11⁄2 acres of ground on the corner of 13th and Clyde streets.
“About 20 of us worked and cleared the land. We got a snow fence for the outfield and lumber for the dugout, and even some old bases.”
Every morning during the summer, the boys rode their bike to the field and played ball until lunch. After eating, they swam in the quarries of North Main Street until dinner. Then it was back to the ball field until it got dark.
There are houses there now, said Grebenz, who served on Bessemer Borough Council for 30 years.
But those magical summers of playing ball will always be with him.
Growing up in Bessemer holds some special memories for those who stayed and those who left.
For Brenda Frazier, summers were also spent at the quarries, which have since been closed off to the public.
“Everybody met there,” Frazier said. There were big rocks and one called ‘Flat Rock’ and we hung out there. They even put in a big diving board. It was the place to be.”
She has another memory — a slithery one.
“There were snakes out there but the older guys would pick them up and keep on going.”
Lifelong resident Paul Tenhula, 61, recalls the carnivals, too.
Those fun summer events were held on the lot of the Bessemer Elementary School, Tenhula said, adding parades were also held for Independence Day and sometimes on Halloween.
Diane Nord, 40, has lived in Bessemer all her life and is currently secretary of the Municipal Authority. She is also on the centennial committee, which is organizing all the events that will take place July 28-31.
“It’s a sense of community spirit,” Nord said. “Growing up, I always felt safe.”