HYDE PARK – Forty-one years after he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, a Withrow High School legend has a field named after him.
Ron Oester Field was dedicated in mid-July at Withrow and will serve as the home for Tigers baseball as well as the Clark Montessori Cougars. The complex will also include a softball field for both programs.
Coinciding with this summer’s All-Star Game, the fields were part of nine Legacy projects. The Reds and the Reds Community Fund requested Major League Baseball approve the project in part because it had an impact on two schools (Withrow and Clark) and would be available for neighborhood youth baseball and softball.
The complex also involved Cincinnati Public Schools and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.
“CRC was involved in the process throughout and will handle permitting outside of the high school baseball and softball season,” Reds Community Fund Executive Director Charley Frank said.
Also part of the project was The Motz Group. Many areas have had fields constructed by the local experts in artificial and natural turf.
“We decided early on to raise the additional dollars to invest in a synthetic turf infield for the varsity baseball field, in order to make it easier to maintain for Withrow and Clark,” Frank said. “A grass infield with 90-foot base paths would limit the 13-and-under access and MLB’s financial investment helped make this important modification possible.”
Allowing outside use of the fields is aligned with the “Play Ball” initiative set forth by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. The message encourages kids of all ages and backgrounds to engage in the game.
Several months prior to the dedication, it was decided the field would be “Ron Oester Field” in honor of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer and Withrow graduate.
“Withrow alums supported the project generously, including donations from several members of their 1950 state championship team,” Frank said. “The Clark Montessori community also worked hard to raise dollars for the project and both schools agreed that naming the field for Ron Oester made sense given his long-time involvement with the Reds, his involvement in the community and his role on the 1990 wire-to-wire Reds championship team.”
Designed to resemble Withrow’s classic adjacent football field, the new site includes a “Withrow” archway and brick dugout pillars. Reds Chief Operating Officer Phil Castellini insisted on the brick and Bill Moehring and Robin Brandon of Cincinnati Public Schools were behind the archway and softball upgrades.
Among those in attendance for the July ribbon-cutting were Reds CEO Bob Castellini, Sharon Robinson (daughter of Jackie Robinson) and Cincinnati Mayer John Cranley. Joining them were many representatives and players from both Withrow and Clark.
The Tigers played every game on the road last season and Clark was using Brandon Phillips Field in Winton Terrace (also a Reds Community Fund project). The new palace cuts transportation costs significantly.