Central Consolidated hits one out of the park
Fort Scott Stadium Entrance Baseball Bats, Fort Scott, Kansas
Contractor: Central Consolidated Inc.
SMACNA member Central Consolidated Inc., headquartered in Wichita, Kan., recently helped major league first baseman Adam LaRoche achieve his dream to build a stadium at Fort Scott High School, Fort Scott, Kan., where he graduated in 2001.
Adam, who played 15 seasons in the majors including with the Chicago White Sox, is the son of retired major league pitcher Dave LaRoche. His brothers Andy and Jeff both played professional baseball.
The entire project—including the LaRoche Baseball Complex and Dave Regan Field—had a price tag of about $2.5 million, which Adam LaRoche funded. Though Central’s part of the project was small, it was an eye-catching part—two 8-foot tall, 16-inch diameter steel baseball bats outside the entrance that act as columns to hold up the roof.
Central Consolidated brought a vision to life
“Dick Robertson (owner of Signature Sports Fields) showed me what he had in mind,” said Chris Rinke, Central’s sheet metal superintendent and a project manager for 35 years. “It was a little bit out of normal for us, but I’m a custom fabrication guy and like to take on ‘impossible’ challenges. We had 3-1/2 weeks to make his vision come to life.”
Creating compound curves in 16-gage cold rolled steel isn’t an easy task. “The end of the bat had pieces shaped like a bowl with rounded edges,” Mr. Rinke said. “We ended up building some of our own equipment to do it.”
Unique shapes required time and skill
Rinke used techniques common to hot rod builders, including hammer forming to make an arc with the metal and planishing to smooth the metal so it looked like it was stamped in that shape. Central's craftsmen rolled the large parts of the bats like 16-inch cylinders and then tapered them down to six inches on the other end.
“We used TIG welding for all of the seams to achieve really high quality welds,” Mr. Rinke said.
Ready for the opening ball game
Upon delivery—in time for the first baseball game of the year—the bats were mounted over posts at the stadium entrance and painted to resemble wooden bats, along with appropriate emblems, logos, and autographs. The look fit in perfectly with the oversized baseballs near the stadium entrance. The bats and baseballs are autographed by Adam, Andy, and Jeff LaRoche and their father, Dave LaRoche, who pitched 14 seasons in the major leagues.
Dave Regan Field is named after Adam LaRoche’s uncle, who was the program's first head coach from 1990 to 2002. The stadium has a seating capacity of 1,200.
"I truly believe it's…the nicest exclusively high-school facility in the country,” said current Fort Scott High School head coach Josh Regan, Dave Regan’s son. “Most college teams would be happy to have a stadium like this.”
LinksCentral Consolidated Inc.
Learn more about Fort Scott Stadium