Former M.V. manager will always have a home in Niles
On a list of Major League Baseball’s most beautiful ballparks, Pittsburgh’s PNC Park usually tops the rankings, while Oakland’s O.co Coliseum is always near the bottom.
In the New York-Penn League, the same could be said for Eastwood Field here in Trumbull County, and Jamestown’s Russell Diethrick Park – ironically, home to new Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate, the Jamestown Jammers.
On Sunday, a sewage pipe leaked in the baseball locker rooms after the Athletics hosted the Seattle Mariners. It forced the teams to shower together in the Oakland Raiders’ locker room. The only real problem with the Jammers’ field is that it’s old – 72 years old.
That doesn’t bother manager Dave Turgeon.
“You hear about how bad the Oakland A’s stadium is and how nasty the clubhouse is, this and that,” he said. “They embraced it and have the best record (43-32) in the AL West with the worst stadium in the major leagues. It’s all a mindset. We’ll be fine, too.”
So far, so good as the Jammers beat the Williamsport Crosscutters, 12-6, on Thursday and remain tied for first in the Pinckney Division after taking two of three from the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
“We love where we’re at,” Turgeon said. “It’s going to be tough to come in to our house and play. We’re going to be in here and ready to go.”
Since 2007, the State College Spikes were the Pirates’ Short Season affiliate. They play in an 8-year old stadium on Penn State’s campus, right across the street from Beaver Stadium. Turgeon managed the Spikes for three seasons.
He actually led the Scrappers in 2001. And while he’s not proud of that 26-49 record, Turgeon holds nothing against the Valley. In fact, he returns often.
After a Sunday afternoon game that was “probably a loss,” Turgeon says, he and the clubhouse manager went to the Italian Festival in Niles. He picked up a sausage sandwich, funnel cake and a woman.
“It was just a chance meeting,” he said of the moment he met his future wife, Warren Western Reserve graduate, Theresa.
The couple married in North Carolina after the 2006 baseball season when Turgeon was an assistant for Duke University. They make their home in Bradenton, Fla., spring training headquarters for the Pirates, where Theresa lives year-round working as Director of Surgical Services at Manatee Memorial Hospital.
“I’m down there 10 months a year,” Turgeon said. “We get to eat dinner every night and, worse-case-scenario, we only see each other every two weeks.”
On Tuesday, she was at Eastwood Field in spirit as a party of her relatives rented out Suite 209 to see the hometown Scrappers take on Turgeon’s Jammers.
“They took it over up there,” Turgeon said, a native of New London, CT. “My brother-in-law, sister-in-law and all kinds of nieces and nephews had a great time. That’s what’s pretty cool about coming back here.
“Yeah, I spent a whole year of my career here and that’s special, but it’s also a home-away-from-home because family is here.”
You don’t have to be a well-traveled baseball professional to really appreciate just how special “home” is. Whether it’s grandma’s creaky old house, a cabin on Lake Pymatuning or a dilapidated, damp and desolate stadium, home is where you’re comfortable.
Turgeon is lucky that his home stretches for many miles.