Gas was 34 cents a gallon. The Boeing 747 made its maiden flight. Fife High School installed a new backstop at its baseball field.
Gas is now close to $4 a gallon. The Boeing 747 is now the most recognizable aircraft in the world. And the Fife backstop remained in service... until now.
Members of the Fife High School varsity and junior varsity baseball teams raised dollars and lined up sponsorships from around the community to finally retire the rotting and rusting backstop with a brand new one earlier this month. The effort is just one in the works for this group of players who remain a team on and off the diamond.
"It all started last summer when the players decided they wanted to spruce up their very outdated field," Karla Adams describes. She is the mother of team catcher Josh Adams. "In the fall, the boys were able to have Lowe's in Federal Way donate paint, and we repaired and painted the dugouts, which then turned into bigger and better ideas of how to improve the field."
Next on the "to do" list was some new fencing, which the teams added during their winter break. Instead of being satisfied with their work, the teams then set out for yet another improvement project.
They set their sights on replacing the 44-year-old backstop that had well outlived its effective life after being hit by thousands of stray balls and suffering through five moves as the decades passed around it.
The baseball teams raised $5,000 through donations and business sponsorships that was then matched with some school dollars after field organizers met with Fife's Assistant Superintendent Jeff Short, Fife Athletic Director Amanda Fox, Maintenance Manager Dan Lee, Student Programs Director John McCrossin and Principal Mark Knight. But it was not enough.
"After that, we hit the pavement," Adams said. "We told the story of the kids' determination and, slowly but surely, people jumped on board and helped us to raise enough money to have a new backstop installed."
The Fife High School Booster Club, Columbia Junior High Booster Club, P.I.E. at Surprise Lake Middle School and PTA groups chipped in. Local businesses including Les Schwab, Fife Flowers, The Poodle Dog, Fife Antique Mall, Fred's Berry Farm, The Outpost in Fife and Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Milton added to the cause as well. With money in hand, the work to replace the backstop got done just in time for the baseball season. But the effort is not over or really even slowing down.
"We are still working on trying to raise money to improve the actual field," Adams said.
The next round of work will involve leveling out the infield and outfield that has several dips and slopes.
"Some day we will have a great field for the players to enjoy," Adams said. "For the next three or four years, we have enough momentum to keep this ball rolling."
Right now, the team needs a lawn tractor to drag the field for maintenance since the work is now being all done by hand. Businesses or groups interested in donating can sponsor the effort by buying four-foot-by-eight-foot banners that will be displayed on the field. Sponsorships cost $300 for one year or $500 for two years. Discounts are available if businesses provide their own banners.