Many people over the years have asked about Badger Field and the history of the Dads' Club. After research and discussion, I have written the following article. I would like to thank Jack Badger and Terry Prather for their guidance on writing this piece.
I would like to take you back in time to 1958. Carmel was a rapidly growing community. It was springtime. A group of dads formed a team of young boys to compete against the young boys of Westfield. The boys really enjoyed playing baseball, and stayed together for football. That is when the first Pups team was conceived. As word spread about the team, more and more boys wanted to participate in the program. This was the very beginning of Dads' Club. The dads got permission to use school property. Wodock Field was used for baseball, football, softball and powder puff football. Wodock Field is located behind Carmel Elementary. It is still used today. A board of directors assisted in the rules, regulations and funding of the Carmel Dads' Club.
By 1978, it was realized by a 24 member Board of Directors that a permanent club owned facility was necessary if the Dads' Club was going to successfully meet the needs of the enthusiastic young athletes of the community. Dads' Club purchased the Blue Farm which was located on 131st Street. They bought 39 rolling acres of farm land. This was almost two miles east of Keystone Avenue. It took many hours of volunteer labor, sweat and tears to trans- form farmland to a first class sports facility. The donated hours of labor helped offset the cost on a very limited budget.
Around this time, there was a young boy in the community who participated in Dads' Club sports. His name was Mark Badger.
At the age of nine, Mark was diagnosed with an inoperable brain stem tumor. During his 13 months fight for life, Mark showed courageous strength, deep spiritual faith, abiding love and a sustaining sense of humor. In 1979, Mark lost his battle with cancer. In 1980, the Board of Directors and general membership voted unanimously to name the new sports complex the Mark Badger Memorial Park. Dick Klar, the Club's president, at that time stated: " Mark Badger exemplified all that the Dads' Club program aims for. He was active in all of the Dads' Club sports, was an example to his teammates by showing respect toward others and good sportsmanship. He strived to achieve perfection, but not at the cost of others. Most of all, Mark Badger showed tremendous courage and gave everyone who came in contact with him a true meaning and appreciation of life."
Schneider Engineering donated the design work and surveying. There was a group of engineers who donated moving over 200000 cubic yards of dirt to make Badger Park look how it does today. There were several men in the community that assisted in the construction of the O'Malia Baseball diamond. Paul Estridge Corportion assisted in the construction of the fieldhouse. Donations were made by various businesses. The community support of this project was greatly appreciated by all. O'Malia Field had baseball played on it in the spring of 1987.
The first soccer field was opened for play in 1983. Since the opening, tens of thousands young athletes have participated in one or more programs. Badger Field is the home of spring and fall soccer, minor league baseball, football, and cheerleading.
Several fund raisers have been tried over the years. The athletes have been asked to sell cards, candy and other items. The Dads' Club hosted for several years a SPORTS FAIR, which hosted games and fun things to do. For several years the Badger site hosted a haunted house. Dads' Club continues to host an annual Golf Outing to raise funds. Monies that have been made in all our fund raising efforts, through the years, have all gone back for the improvement of the Club.
The Dads' Club works closely with the school system for facility use. Our newest facility is located behind Towne Meadow Elementary, which is home to minor league baseball.
As the community is still growing, the Carmel Dads' Club will continue to look for better ways to improve their programs to meet all the needs of the membership.