Tryon and Harmon Field give nod for Harry Dallara Baseball Park
Published 12:01 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016
By Leah Justice
Tryon Town Council and the Harmon Field Board of Supervisors gave support last week for the fundraising to continue for the Harry Dallara baseball park at Harmon Field.
Town council and the Harmon Field board met jointly on Tuesday, Feb. 16 with Charles Dallara, Steve Parris, Mark Byington and Will Behrends to hear a presentation about a proposed Harry Dallara Baseball Park at Harmon Field.
The Harry Dallara Foundation is attempting to raise approximately $1.4 million to create a statue of Harry Dallara, baseball field improvements, a splash park, spectator area improvements and a tribute to the Tryon All-Stars. The estimated construction is $1.025 million with the foundation also planning annual incremental maintenance endowments of $20,000.
Charles Dallara said the proposal would be a significant enhancement to Harmon Field and would honor his father, who loved Tryon and Harmon Field. Harry Dallara passed away in 2012, just three days after a visit to Harmon Field at the age of 95.
Charles Dallara said his father found Harmon Field in the 1950s and enjoyed everything about Tryon and Harmon Field. The idea for the Harry Dallara Baseball Park at Harmon Field first developed almost four years ago on the day of his death.
One new aspect of the project is for a sculpture of the Tryon All-Stars, an African American semi-pro baseball team from Tryon that began in the 1940s.
Charles Dallara said the foundation wants to include some parts of the community who were not privileged to play at Harmon Field when they were young men. He said he was told by Tryon resident James Payne that black children were not allowed at Harmon Field and had to play across the canebreak and pay $3 per season. Harry Dallara grew up in the Bronx in a multi-cultural community, with Charles Dallara saying his father would be honored to include the Tryon All-Stars in the park.
Steve Parris said he lost his father when he was nine years old and Harry Dallara became a father figure for him. Parris showed a video about Harry Dallara he made that included an interview with Dallara when he was in his 90s.
Parris said he hoped the video makes people fall in love with Harry Dallara and shows how much of a fit the project is with Harry’s life, his love of family and community, with treating people right, with sports and everything Harmon Field stands for.
“We think this is a big benefit to Harmon Field and the greater Piedmont community because it will bring more people here to participate in the opportunities that are here,” Parris said.
Harry Dallara was born in 1917 with a twin brother. His mother died during childbirth and his education didn’t continue past the eighth grade. Harry Dallara grew up in the Bronx, where he attended many New York Yankee’s games in the 1920s and met both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Harry Dallara served in WWII in the U.S. Army where he earned a Purple Heart.
He relocated to Spartanburg, S.C. and after he discovered Harmon Field in the 1950s, he organized frequent trips to Tryon to bring his family to play baseball.
The foundation is working with Will Behrends, a world-renowned sculptor and resident of Tryon to create a statue of Harry Dallara. The statue will be from a picture of Dallara in his 90s swinging a baseball bat wearing khakis and a hat. Behrends will also create the sculpture of the Tryon All-Stars.
Behrends’ work includes statues of Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese together. Behrends most recently sculpted a bust of Vice President Dick Cheney and has been commissioned to create a bust of Vice President Al Gore for the U.S. Capitol.
The foundation is also working with Byington, a landscape architect of Tryon.
After the video showing Harry Dallara’s life, Charles Dallara said he hopes it showed the special attachment his father had to Harmon Field.
“I hope it shows you not only was my father a special man but that he had a special attachment to this field and this town,” said Charles Dallara.
Behrends said he knows Harmon Field as he played football and ran track at Harmon Field in high school and has watched his children and grandchildren play here as well.
Behrends said the statue will not be about Dallara but about what he represents.
“What he represents in all of us,” said Behrends.
In speaking about the Tryon All-Stars, Behrends said he will create a work from the only photograph of the team he’s seen. Behrends said the look on the players’ faces shows they are proud of their team and proud of their community.
The Harry Dallara Baseball Park is proposed to be located at and around the baseball field close to the children’s playground near the Harmon Field cabin.
The baseball field improvements are proposed to include a new electronic scoreboard, new dugouts with covers, new backstop, fencing and gates and drainage and infield improvements.
Parking and walkway improvements proposed include new concrete walks connecting the ball field, concession stand, parking and restrooms.
A water play area is proposed to include a splash pad, an equipment building, stone veneer and new pergola for the existing restroom building and a new pergola with a shade cover, seating and stage performance provisions for sound and lights as well as new trees and landscaping.
Other proposed improvements include new bleachers, new lighting, a concrete sculpture plaza with seating, masonry walls and columns, trees and landscaping along with the Dallara and Tryon All-Stars statues.
Tryon commissioners agreed to give the foundation their support to continue raising money and continue with the project during the joint meeting. Harmon Field board members gave their support during their meeting following the joint meeting. From the audience, Payne said he would like for the Tryon All-Stars statue to be large enough to see each of the players.
“When I was growing up I couldn’t set foot on Harmon Field,” Payne said. “Thank God it’s changed.”
Payne said when Harmon Field was segregated the only reason a black person could go to Harmon Field is if they were working a show, such as a cook.
“It was rough back then but we’ve all come together and that’s the way it should be,” Payne said.
Parris said maybe this project will inspire others to do other improvements at Harmon Field.
“We care about this place and we want to see it grow into something far better than we can ever imagine,” Parris said.
For more information about the project and Harry Dallara visit harrydallarafoundation.org.