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June 24, 2014

The Holt Report: Hamilton Field is Stillwater's Field of Dreams

STILLWATER, Okla. — This summer the 25th anniversary of the filming of the beloved baseball movie, Field of Dreams, was celebrated at the movie’s main location in Dyersville, Iowa.

Kevin Costner, star of the movie, returned to join in the celebration at the field, which entertains numerous visitors each summer.

On a smaller scale, Hamilton Field, home to Stillwater Pioneer football since 1948, could be considered football’s version of the Field of Dreams for the numerous Pioneers who played on the field and coaches who roamed the sidelines for 60 seasons.

But, time took its toll on the stadium and the final Pioneer football game was played on the field in mid-November, 2008.

 It wasn’t the most fan friendly of stadiums but no one really noticed until its final years. On most Friday nights, the stadium was packed.

The concrete bleachers were crumbling away and in need of replacement. Those bleachers were the first to go and for a while the only thing that remained was the press box and the spacious entry to the field. Now, the entrance is all that remains.

Through the years, the field, which also hosted SHS soccer, junior high football and little league football, received much needed improvements. The lighting was improved and the new entrance area featured more spacious dressing rooms for the teams and larger rest rooms for the fans. Another press box had also been built many years earlier.

Hamilton Field, named for former SHS head football coach Ralph Hamilton (1919-21, 1927-49), was replaced by Pioneer Stadium on the Stillwater High campus, which ranks with some of the state’s best prep stadiums.

Even though it was time to move on, the history and nostalgia created at Hamilton Field remains. Pioneer Pride was created and nurtured at the field.

Some of the greatest football players in SHS history and in state history played on that field. Some of the greatest teams in SHS history and some of the best in the state experienced success on the field. Significant accomplishments were plentiful at Hamilton Field during its 60 years.

The 1967 Pioneers, who won the school’s only state championship, honed their skills on the field, led by head coach Jim Harris.

Head coach Bill Defee, who coached the Pioneer footballers from 1983 to 2001, finished his career with a 152-67 record, the best in school history.

Former Pioneers who played professional football were Earl Lunsford, Sonny Keys, Chip Myers, Jackie Shipp and Artie Smith.

Former SHS quarterbacks Matt Holliday and Josh Fields became professional baseball players. And, current Oklahoma State head baseball coach Josh Holliday, quarterbacked successful Pioneer teams.

The field contains memories not just for the stars but also for the talented, determined players who never played after high school.

Memories can’t be torn down or hauled away.

 

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