The historic Englehart Field has been revived at Cortez Middle School.
The baseball field fell into disrepair and was closed several years ago after a windstorm blew down a light pole.
The diamond is the home field of the Montezuma-Cortez High School softball team, which moved its games to the Cortez Softball Complex south of Cortez.
“A volunteer effort from parents and funding from the school board brought the field back. It looks fantastic,” said volunteer Susan Likes.
“Since May, we have been pulling weeds, moving dirt, painting and putting in the work,” Likes said.
Montezuma-Cortez varsity and junior varsity teams resumed play at the field on Monday against rival Durango High School. The Panthers varsity team fell 9-2, but the JV team won 21-5.
Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1 contributed $28,000 toward the field improvements.
A core group of parents, including Likes, Randy Carver and Doug LaMunyon, contributed hundreds of hours toward the effort. Likes’ daughter, Lizzie Likes, and Randy Carter’s daughter Emily Carver, play on the varsity team.
New fencing was installed for the outfield and dugouts. Three truckloads of infield dirt was brought in from the Front Range. New sod was laid, and the third base area was leveled with topsoil. Fresh layers of paint were added to the dugout and buildings, and the concessions and scoring boxes were fixed up.
“The girls are thrilled to have their home field back,” Likes said.
The field was named after Jim Englehart, who coached baseball for 20 years at Montezuma-Cortez High School, from 1957 to 1977, said his wife, Mary.
He also coached football, girls basketball, taught weightlifting, and was the school athletic director. Englehart was a mechanical and architectural drawing teacher at the school for 32 years, and retired in 1989. He died in 2015.
Seeing the field come back to life is special for the family, Mary Englehart said in a phone interview. It was dedicated in his name in 1999.
“I’m so glad it is being used again. Jim was so proud of that field, and of this community. We saw a lot of baseball games there. I was the scorekeeper,” she said.
Englehart Field was the main baseball diamond in the area for decades before Cortez Recreation Center fields were built, she said.
Englehart’s children played on the field as well and were coached by their dad.
“It’s heartwarming to see it be restored. He was very well liked,” said his son Richard Englehart, who is the deputy county manager for Pitkin County. “We’re so grateful for the community effort to keep it alive. We had some memorable games there. Dad was always out there working on the field during the baseball seasons.”
A popular family story was Englehart’s legendary winning record against rival Durango Demons in the 1960s and 1970s.
“Baseball is in our blood, and it all started at that field in Cortez,” Mary said.
“Baseball is in our blood, and it all started at that field in Cortez,” Mary Englehart said.
Jim Englehart played college baseball at Western State and in the military. His son Richard played baseball for Mesa State, and so did his sons.
The next game at Englehart Field is Friday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. for a doubleheader against Delta.