If you build it…

Raiders’ alum helps rebuild ball field

Kile Brewer
Posted 11/8/17

ORANGE PARK – Jay Adair has been watching Orange Park High School baseball for a few years now.

His son Jordan is currently a junior at the school, and his son Jared recently graduated from …

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If you build it…

Raiders’ alum helps rebuild ball field

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Jay Adair has been watching Orange Park High School baseball for a few years now.

His son Jordan is currently a junior at the school, and his son Jared recently graduated from OPHS. During his years of sitting in the stands rooting for the home team, Adair noticed a small problem with the ballpark after his older son twisted his ankle in a game while leaving the shortstop position and heading toward the outfield to chase the ball.

The area between second and third base, just into the outfield, had a significant drop-off. One day after a game, Adair walked onto the field to take a look at the spot, and noticed that there was a depression in the field that went about 2.5 feet down at its lowest point. The problem was bad enough that Adair, who heads up information technology with Jacksonville-based contractor Petticoat-Schmitt, decided to try and get something done about it.

“Someone could’ve gotten a real injury from [the elevation change], we’re lucky we haven’t had one,” Adair said. “It needed to be fixed, so I spoke with the athletic director about three or four months ago to see if we could work on getting together to make it happen.”

In addition to creating a potential hazard for players, the area led to drainage problems, and there were other areas on the field that needed work. Once Adair got the ball rolling with the school, his company agreed to help out in any way they could, especially considering the connection of the company’s owners to OPHS.

Petticoat-Schmitt President Ryan Schmitt is an Orange Park High graduate himself, a member of the class of 1985. Schmitt, a soccer player at OPHS in the 1980s, saw this project as a great way to propel his company’s community-first message and help his alma mater at the same time.

“Our goal is to give them a better playing field and something that they can be proud of,” Schmitt said. “Part of our mission is to give back to the community.”

For him, this project was a perfect combination of giving back to the community, and helping the sports program at OPHS to which he attributes his own coming of age.

Once Schmitt’s company and the school were on the same page, Petticoat-Schmitt sent out surveyors, and eventually heavy equipment operators to start what Schmitt estimates to be a nearly $7,000 dirt-moving project pro bono. The district estimates the entire project to run around $25,000 including re-landscaping and running irrigation, but the dirt-work gives them a solid starting point.

“This is really a blessing to us,” said OPHS Athletic Director Michael Harrison. “Without their help we couldn’t do this project.”

Harrison said the dirt-moving project officially began Oct. 26 and should be done sometime this week. After that sod will be laid and irrigation placed to get the field all finished up before baseball season starts early next year.

“It should be looking like a baseball field again by Thanksgiving week,” Harrison said.

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