We remember 3-2-2007

2007 baseball team accident

“You did not choose this road, but you traveled it as well as could ever have been imagined under the circumstances. Your profound and memorable journey—the tears and the accomplishments—during the 2007 baseball season and beyond, is being recognized and honored this evening,” with these words, Bluffton University President James Harder summed up the 2017 Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the 2007 Bluffton University baseball team.

The team was unanimously selected for induction in their first year of eligibility due to their remarkable courage and strength in responding to the March 2, 2007, accident in in Atlanta, Ga., when the team’s charter bus fell from an overpass on their way to spring training. Five student-athletes were killed: Zachary Arend (Oakwood, Ohio);  David Betts (Bryan, Ohio); Scott Harmon (Elida, Ohio); Cody Holp (Verona, Ohio) and Tyler Williams (Lima, Ohio); along with the bus driver and his wife. Twenty-eight others were injured including James Grandey, head coach. >>> more from the Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony

Members of the Bluffton campus community have worked to create an appropriate memorial that will remember and honor the experience of the 2007 Bluffton baseball team.

The campus memorial includes three integrated components. First, the baseball diamond was formally named Bluffton University Memorial Field.

The second component is the Circle of Remembrance, a circular-form walkway on a low rise adjacent to shallow right field, with a limestone-capped brick semi-circular wall, benches and landscaping. The Circle of Remembrance features a centerpiece sculpture, Touching Home, by Gregg Luginbuhl, Bluffton faculty-artist, which connects symbolically and visually with home plate on the adjacent Memorial Field.

The final component of the memorial project features a number of enhancements to the playing field. The improvements included a new infield, laser-leveled and sodded, and with three truckloads of Alabama red clay added to the infield dirt. New Major League-style sunken dugouts, large enough to accommodate the team and equipment, were built. Between them is a new 30 inch brick backstop wall topped with 25 foot high mesh netting. The layout of the backstop and new dugouts is patterned after Chicago's Wrigley Field. In addition, bull pens were moved closer to the new dugouts and new black vinyl fencing installed. Two permanent outdoor batting cages were added adjacent to the left field area.