Mayor Chris Beutler joined baseball enthusiasts and supporters today to celebrate the newly renovated Sherman Field at Sampson Park. The Lincoln Parks Foundation led a successful $2.2 million fund-raising campaign to renovate support facilities at the historic ballpark, which was built at 2nd and South streets in 1947. The project includes two new dugouts, restrooms and a new maintenance and storage facility, ticket and concession building and concourse.
The park is named for Morris "Sam" and Evelyn Sampson who founded Sampson Construction Company in Lincoln in 1952. The name recognizes a significant contribution from their son, the current President, John Sampson. Sampson provided a significant lead gift and secured assistance from subcontractors for the project. Sampson watched the Lincoln Chiefs play at Sherman Field as a boy, played catcher for Gary's Sports Shop and Lincoln High School, and has sponsored Lincoln High's American Legion team for many years.
"This is among the largest donations made to our City Parks and Recreation programs," said Mayor Beutler. "We sincerely thank John and his family for helping to build Lincoln and for their generous contribution to the iconic Sherman Field. This is a great example of how a hard working family built a very successful company and have now chosen to give back to make Lincoln an even greater place to live and play."
The Mayor also thanked the many other donors who made the project possible as well as the campaign leaders, including Sampson, Leslie Gordon, Bill Fagler and Dick Clarence. Honorary Chairs were Joba Chamberlain and Alex Gordon, former high school players from Lincoln who played for the Huskers and are now in the major leagues.
The City-owned Sherman Field was the home of the Lincoln Chiefs in the 1940s and 1950s and hosted players like Satchel Paige, Nellie Fox and Bobby Shantz. Since 1961, the field has been used for American Legion and state high school baseball games. The field and grandstand were renovated in 1997. In addition to new support facilities, the recent improvements include energy efficient field lighting, a reorganized parking lot with ADA accessibility and new perimeter fencing. The final phase of renovation is nearly completed and includes landscaping and special donor recognition and historical displays.
Lincoln Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson said Sherman Field hosts about 250 games between mid-March and mid-July. "Of all the high school fields in Nebraska, Sherman Field is a favorite among players, coaches and fans because of its history, field surface and the large grandstand, which gives everyone the feeling of being in a classic ballpark," Johnson said.
In addition to Sampson's lead gift, major contributions came from the City of Lincoln, Lincoln Public Schools, the Lancaster County Visitors Improvement Fund, The Lincoln Community Foundation on behalf of the Myrtle E. Clark Fund; Helen E. Clough Children & Youth Field of Interest Fund; Maurguerite A. Hac Children & Youth Field of Interest Fund; Frances V. H. James Memorial Fund; and Maude Hollingshead Memorial Fund.
"This is a wonderful example of a successful public-private partnership," said Danielle Conrad, Lincoln Parks Foundation Director. "We appreciate the community's strong support to help restore this historic treasure that will be an incredible place for baseball, families and our community now and for generations to come."
Other donors include members of the Diamond Club, who provided a foundation gift for the project; Amigo's; Bison Inc.; Burlington Northern Santa Fe; BVH Architects; Carpetland; Chief Industries; Culver's; Great Plains Foundation; John Baylor Test Prep; Krieger Family Foundation; Lincoln Babe Ruth Baseball; Lincoln Industries; Lincoln Parks Foundation; NEBCO; Nebraska Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine; Northwestern Mutual Financial; Pinnacle Bank; Runza; Schaefer's TV and Appliances; Solution One; Stonebrook Roofing; and Whitehead Oil Company.
The public may still purchase custom crafted recognition ball tiles and grand slam bats that will be added to the display under the grandstand. Proceeds will support an endowment fund for the ongoing care and maintenance of Sherman Field. More information is available at: www.lincolnparks.org