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Rec Center features Elgin baseball history

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    Ronnie Arbuckle points out his baseball jersey. Photos by Julianne Hodges
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    The family of Doug Prinz stand in front of his baseball photograph. From left to right: Emily Clarke, Sue Brashar, Judith Sanders, Lisa Crawford.
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    VFW post commander Chuck Swain shares a few words about the flag and the veterans’ marker.
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    Members of VFW Post 6115 salute the flag after the veterans’ marker is re-dedicated in front of the Elgin Recreation Center.

A piece of Elgin’s history returned to its home last week with the opening of a baseball display in the lobby of the Elgin Recreation Center.

The ceremonies last Tuesday morning began with a re-dedication of a monument from the Elgin VFW Post 6115 for the baseball field’s flag pole. The marker, which pays honor to veterans and is dated April 1971, was moved to the flagpole at the front of the Elgin Recreation Center.

Next, visitors to the Elgin Recreation Center went inside to see the new baseball memorabilia display, which shows photographs, jerseys and even the original bases from the historic Elgin baseball field that was located where the Rec Center now stands.

According to the information provided by the Elgin Historical Society for the display, Elgin baseball teams first played their games at the old fair park on Central Avenue. Then, in the late 1940s, a group of Elgin fans formed the Elgin Athletic Company, Inc. in order to lease and equip a lighted baseball field on State Highway 95 near the Elgin Memorial Park. On May 6, 1950, a team from Bartlett defeated the Elgin team for the first baseball game at the new stadium.

The Elgin Athletic Company rented out the park to area teams, and in the mid-1950s, the Elgin High School began to play at this field, as well. The high school continued to use the field until 2004, when the new James Fisher field was opened.

Finally, the Elgin Recreation Center was opened in May 2018 where the baseball field was. The building is an emergency shelter and can provide temporary shelter to those affected by natural disasters.

The City of Elgin is interested in additional memorabilia surrounding the historic Elgin Baseball Field that could be either used in the future for physical displays or shared digitally.