Abrahamson made improvements possible

This week’s bouquets go to:

From Dan Block:

Spring has finally arrived at Lemerand Park in Escanaba, home of the 2018 softball State Champion Escanaba Eskymos (MHSAA Division 2). During the afternoons and evenings of this time of year, you’re likely to find the Eskymos playing against their division foes or hard at work, practicing to defend their title in the 2019 season.

Or, you may find a great deal of youth activities, including Little League softball and travel softball programs.

Or, if you come when there is no softball going on, you will likely find coaches, parents and volunteers hard at work, maintaining and improving the facility.

For those that have been coming to Lemerand Park for the last two years, you will have likely noticed some significant changes to the complex — important improvements that are transforming the park. The improvements are due to the incredible generosity of an amazing woman, Ms. Patricia Abrahamson. Due to her passion for female sports, Ms. Abrahamson made substantial donations to the Escanaba Public School District to improve the Lemerand Park complex — donations totaling $286,000. The school district accepted her donations and agreed to honor her family by giving her naming rights to each field. As a result, the premier varsity field will forever be known as Abrahamson Field, the west field is now Flath Field and the east field is now Kidd Field.

The family names were selected by Ms. Abrahamson to honor all her family members that played competitive sports in the area, specifically baseball and softball. These names include Wally Flath, Bucky Flath, Ching Flath, Toodles Flath, Allen Erickson, Francis Kidd Sr., Gary Abrahamson, and Jeffery Abrahamson.

On Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11, Lemerand Park hosted the Escanaba High School softball invitational. Prior to the start of the games, several pre-game activities occurred, which included the unveiling of the state championship sign and Ms. Abrahamson throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Ms. Abrahamson’s desire to assist female sports at Escanaba is partly motivated by her own experience as a female growing up in an earlier era in which females had few opportunities to play high school sports. Ms. Abrahamson, who also recently made a $10,000 donation to the Esky girls gymnastics program, is particularly pleased by the impact of Title IX (of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972), which helped to open up high school and collegiate athletics for females.

The first Lemerand Park project funded by Ms. Abrahamson was a new pressbox for Flath Field, which was completed in the spring/summer of 2017.

During a visit to the pressbox project, Ms. Abrahamson experienced the dreaded, uneven, dirt/mud and grass parking situation for Lemerand Park. As a result of her experience, Ms. Abrahamson’s decided to pay for the installation of an asphalt driveway and parking lot, which was completed by the fall of 2017.

The parking lot was well received by the entire community. Not only is the parking lot used for Lemerand Park, it is also being used by spectators for the Al Ness baseball field and the football field. As a result, it was decided to name the driveway Abrahamson Drive, to honor Ms. Abrahamson’s significant gift to the community.

One of the main improvements needed for the softball fields at Lemerand Park was the installation of new infield surface materials. In the spring of 2018, the new surfaces were installed on Abrahamson and Flath Fields. The material that was selected is identical to the material at Al Ness Field, which is desirable for shared use of materials between the two parks in the future.

Additional improvements that have already occurred at Lemerand Park include 20 foot-tall backstops, a warning track, bleachers, backstop pad, field covers, a viewing berm along the outfield fence and a new Garage building.

Upcoming improvements also funded by Ms. Abrahamson include more field surfacing, field irrigation, warning tracks, another backstop and backstop pad, another pressbox, sound system, updated scoreboard and new dugout roofs. These improvements are schedule to be completed in 2019 and 2020.

The Escanaba softball programs that utilized Lemerand Park are phenomenal programs, largely in part to the great complex that they get to utilize and the support of the community, especially amazing people like Ms. Abrahamson.

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Each Saturday the Daily Press salutes individuals and groups from our area who have had a very positive impact on the way we live.

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