Published 11:07 am Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Harry Dallara Ball Field to celebrate grand opening Saturday
When long-time Spartanburg resident Harry Dallara passed away at the age of 92 in 2012, he left a legacy of love for his family, community and the game of baseball. That legacy will be very evident in the Grand Opening of the Dallara Ball Field at Harmon Field in Tryon on Saturday, September 5. The family-friendly event will include speeches and appearances by local and national dignitaries, the unveiling of a special plaque honoring the Tryon All Stars of the Negro League and plenty of food and music.
Festivities will begin at 10:00 a.m. and last until 2:00 p.m. Opening speeches will be made by Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples and Chairman of the Harmon Field Board of Supervisors Steve Nelon. Tryon native and Chicago White Sox Minor League professional baseball player Joel Booker will lead a baseball clinic. A statue of Harry Dallara will be unveiled and an inaugural youth baseball game will be played.
The event will also include letters of congratulation from distinguished supporters of the Foundation, as well as the unveiling of a bas-relief plaque honoring the contributions made to the game of baseball by the Tryon All Stars, who represented Tryon in the Negro Leagues in the 1940s.
Harry Dallara: A Man Dedicated to Family and Community
Dallara’s love for baseball was life long; he regularly attended Yankees games while growing up in New York in the 1920s, where he met Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. After enlisting in the army, Harry moved to Spartanburg, SC to complete basic training, then served in the Army during World War II. He was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries he sustained following the Allied invasion at Salerno Beach.
Dallara returned to Spartanburg, where he married and began raising a family, but he didn’t leave baseball behind. During a visit to Tryon in the 1950s, he discovered Harmon Field. He fell in love with the beautiful mountain town and began organizing regular family baseball games and picnics at the field.
Dallara was a beloved member of his community, known around town as “Mr. Tire” for his work in the tire and auto industry. He was also known as “Rose Man” to students at Converse College, where he served as the rose gardener for a decade after his retirement from Sears. His heart was as big as his enthusiasm for baseball. “Harry was like an adoptive father to me, after my own father died when I was nine,” said family friend Stephen Parris, who helped Harry’s son Charles launch the Dallara Memorial Foundation.
In March of 2012, at the age of 92, Harry played what was to be his last game at Harmon Field before passing away in late April of that year.
The Dallara Memorial Foundation: A Commitment to Inclusion
The Harry Dallara Memorial Foundation was established to honor the life and memory of Dallara by committing to make significant improvements to Harmon Field. These improvements will enable young people from diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds to build life-long skills such as team building, positive interaction and fair play.
Integral to that mission is honoring the Tryon All Stars, a semi-professional Black baseball team organized in the 1940s. Although the All Stars brought considerable recognition to their place of birth, they were not allowed to play at Harmon Field because of segregation.
Says Gordon Hamilton, a Director of the Foundation: “The unveiling of the plaque in honor of the Tryon All Stars at the Grand Opening of Dallara Ball Field constitutes an important milestone in remembering these talented young men and signifies the Foundation’s commitment, along with the town of Tryon, to a community that promotes diversity and respects the humanity in all of us.”
The event will feature the presentation of a $10,000 donation from the Denny’s Corporation in support of the Foundation and in particular, the plaque of the Tryon All Stars. Denny’s Chief Executive Officer, John Miller stated “We at Denny’s are humbled to play a role in supporting the Harry Dallara Foundation and honoring both his legacy and that of the Tryon All Stars.”
Harmon Field Improvements: A Lasting Contribution
Attendees of the Grand Opening will see many changes to the former Harmon Field, including outfield grass with an irrigation system and installation of infield grass (the first in Polk County); ball field fencing and bleachers; dugouts covered in shade cloth; an electronic scoreboard; and a new plaza built around the Harry Dallara statue and a special baseball insignia created at the base of the Tryon All Stars plaque.
“I am very impressed by the major improvements at Harmon Field on what will now be called the Harry Dallara Ball Field,” says Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples. “Without any cost to the people of Tryon, the Dallara Foundation and its donors have made a lasting contribution that can benefit significantly the children of Polk County.”
Adds Dallara’s son Charles, Chairman of the Foundation, “I am delighted that the time has come, after many years of preparation, to formally open the Harry Dallara Ball Field at Harmon Field. My father would be very proud to know that in his name, generations of diverse children will be able to enjoy the finest ball field in the Carolinas.”
Submitted by Shannon Quinn