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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • New baseball complex will feature field named for Jake Beckley

  • At least one of the baseball fields slated to be built on the corner of Ninth and Warren Barrett won't go unnamed.
    Hannibal Parks and Recreation plans to name one of the fields after Hannibal's lone hall of famer, legendary first baseman Jake Beckley.
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  • At least one of the baseball fields slated to be built on the corner of Ninth and Warren Barrett won't go unnamed.
    Hannibal Parks and Recreation plans to name one of the fields after Hannibal's lone hall of famer, legendary first baseman Jake Beckley.
    In a letter to the Hannibal City Council dated March 27, Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department Director Andy Dorian wrote that the regulation-sized baseball field will be named Beckley Field in honor of Major League Baseball's career first base putouts leader. The Beckley Monument, once located along Main Street, will be moved to the field as well.
    According to Dorian's letter, the parks department has budgeted $30,000 for the site.
    It's not clear how many fields will be at the new baseball complex or whom, if anyone, the complex will be named after.
    When will work begin? When can baseball games start?
    "No comment," Dorian said.
    Hannibal Mayor Roy Hark was able to lend some insight.
    "I think it's going to be a complex," Hark explained. "Not just one field, they're going to have four or five fields."
    The news is getting mixed reviews however.
    Some folks say there's more to Hannibal than Mark Twain and something honoring Beckley needs to be along Historic Main Street to honor him. Others say if it's in the right spot and takes visitors throughout town, that's a plus.
    "The thing of it is, we got a baseball field down here, and who's it named after, Samuel Clamens. It's not named after Jake Beckley. Clemens spent 13, 14 years of his life here. He was not born here, he's not buried here. Beckley was born here, Beckley is buried here. He is the true son of Hannibal," Ken Barnes, who owns Picture Perfect at Broadway and Main Street with his wife, Judy, said Monday. "Dorian said they've never had an issue that brought up more negative comment than this. What he was not clear on is they don't want to spend money on that city parking lot spot or they don't want to spend money on a (new) Jake Beckley memorial. The things he talked about (at the Historic Hannibal Marketing Council meeting), they were going to put a kiosk and landscaping, they're going to put a watering system underground to keep it watered. It's going to cost who knows what. It's probably going to cost more than what the Beckley thing would cost."
    Judy Barnes is also in favor of Beckley on Main Street.
    "Down there, you got kids and families going down there a couple months a year, the rest of the year you've got vandals. Up here, it's not likely to be vandalized," she said. "I would much prefer the Beckley monument be back here. It doesn't have to be either or, you can still name (the field), you can still have information about him down there."
    Page 2 of 2 - But maybe taking Beckley out of Main Street and forcing folks to go beyond the historic downtown borders is something Hannibal needs. At least Ken and Lisa Marks, who own and operate the Hannibal History Museum, see it that way.
    "It makes sense to be down at the ballpark and I have always been an advocate of, especially visitors to town, seeing that there's so much more to Hannibal then just Main Street," Lisa Marks said. "As long as it can be well-publicized, that there is a memorial to a hall of fame baseball player from Hannibal, and that people have access to go and visit it, then I think we need to make sure that not everything is focused on Main Street."
    "It would be a shame if there was nothing up about Jake anywhere," Ken Marks added. "If it's going to go to a place that will help draw people there and help draw attention to him. It's not on Main Street, that's okay, as long it helps keep the history intact and remind people of heritage."
    In a Feb. 15 email to the Courier-Post, Dorian said an information center may be in the works for Main Street.
    "The storyboard would include pictures, stats, a biography and mention (Jake Beckley's) gravesite location. In addition to this storyboard we are looking at a second storyboard which would tell the story of some of our other famous Hannibalians who do not always get the recognition they deserve. In addition we are looking into the possibility of an informational kiosk at this site with information on downtown businesses, restaurants and events. We are also looking at including a couple of benches and possible ground flowers or potted flowers," Dorian wrote.
    That idea seems to have common ground with Judy Barnes.
    "That would be okay as long as that's kept up," she said. "But there's a difference between a kiosk and a story board."
    According to Dorian's Feb. 15 email those plans were not set in stone.
    By now they could've changed, however, Dorian said, "no comment."
    In his letter to the Hannibal City Council, Dorian wrote his department is working with the Hannibal Cavemen to install something at Clemens Field that will grab fan attention to Jake Beckley.
    Cavemen Owner Bob Hemond could not be reached for comment on Monday.

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