By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Among piles of concrete and rebar stands a skeleton of the press box overlooking what was once known at Hamilton Field.
Gone are the large concrete stands, which once towered over the left field wall of the baseball field the Stillwater High team plays at, and pieces of the press box, leaving part of the lettering that once spelled out Stillwater High. Still standing are the old goal posts and broken down scoreboard that pales in comparison to the monstrosity that stands at Pioneer Stadium.
While it’s been almost five years since a Stillwater High football team stepped foot on the field in Couch Park, it still holds plenty of memories, even with it in ruins.
“It was kind of sad. You look at it and you’re just at a loss for words,” said Rusty Atkins, who was both a player and a coach for SHS on Hamilton Field. “You hate to be cliche, but it was like losing a part of the family. It’s been there forever, it holds a lot of memories.
“Generations of Stillwater people have either played there or gone there and watched their kids play. Some families have grown up in Hamilton Field and it was a sad thing to see it be taken apart.”
It’s something that Atkins, who coached another two years after the team left Hamilton Field, says is missing from the $21 million dollar Pioneer Stadium.
“The crazy thing is there was a mystique at Hamilton Field. It was almost like a 12th man type of thing,” Atkins said. “When you stepped on Hamilton Field you knew it was going to be there and you knew everything was going to be alright. It was different coming to a new field and that’s part of progress, but it just kind of lacked that feeling. It didn ‘t have the ghosts of Hamilton Field there.
“As a player, and even as a coach, you felt it when you were on that field that they were there with you. The people who had played there for many years and the coaches that had been there for many a year, you always felt like when you came out of that locker room that those people were there with you.”
The demolition of the old field in Couch Park, which was still sparingly used for SHS soccer games and youth football despite it being nearly condemned, started in early spring and has been in its current state for several months.
With no trespassing signs posted and area taped off around the field, Atkins and others feeling nostalgic, must gaze upon Hamilton from the gravel parking lot. The former SHS coach does regret that he didn ‘t take a piece of the field with him before demolition commenced.
“We used to laugh and kid and say we were going to go out there with a sod cutter and cut up a piece of the field and put it in the new stadium somewhere just so a piece of Hamilton was in the new stadium, “ Atkins said. “But that never happened. “
With the last group of Pioneers to have played on Hamilton Field have since graduated from SHS, it is up to those past players and coaches who called Hamilton Field “home “ to keep its memory alive, even long after the rubble has been removed.
“That ‘s what ‘s cool, you can go out there and all those memories come back, “ Atkins said. “And it ‘s like that for everybody. There have been plenty of people on Facebook talking about the field being torn down.
“Those memories will always be there. The sad part about it is, the kids today have no idea about Hamilton Field. They didn ‘t even know what it was, what it stood for or even been on that field at all.“