George Hodge Ball Park

George Hodge Ball Park used to be unimproved land near El Paso High School, below Rim Road and the Brown Street reservoir.  Now it is a facility with softball and baseball fields, home to the El Paso High Tigers during the school year and available for team play during the summer under the City of El Paso Parks & Recreation Department.

The idea of a ball park on this location was the brain child of Dwayne M. Aboud, MD, El Paso High School Class of 1966.  In the first few years of the 21st Century, Dr. Aboud envisioned a facility close to El Paso High with two fields for baseball (one for the high school level and one for Little League) and a softball field for the growing popularity of women's softball.  Dr. Aboud, a former developmental baseball coach and a certified Major League Baseball scout,  recognized there were too few and largely inadequate facilities for baseball and softball in the El Paso High feeder district.  He set about to correct that situation so that young boys and girls would have a neighborhood field at which to play organized baseball and softball.  That spot by the reservoir was where Dr. Aboud saw kids from nine to nineteen playing ball and a home for EPHS Baseball and Softball.

Soils experts, civil engineers, hydrologist, ball park designers, and athletic turf specialist were among the experts consulted by Dr. Aboud so that a site plan and engineering drawings could be developed.  Unfortunately, Dr. Aboud was unable to create a working partnership with the El Paso Public Schools and the City of El Paso.  He was forced to shelve his design for a ball park next to Lower Tom Lea Park. 

Very soon after Dr. Aboud put his plans into mothballs, the city and the schools announced an agreement to build a baseball and softball facility on the that parcel of land just below the reservoir.  Construction began and a baseball and softball field grew in time for the 2011 spring baseball/softball season.  The fields would be under the jurisdiction of the El Paso independent School District as home fields for El Paso High Tiger Baseball and Softball; during the summer the city would maintain the fields and schedule them for team play.  It was a workable plan which provided a true home field for EPHS for the first time since 1965 when the original baseball field was eliminated to make way for the extension of Schuster Avenue from Virginia Street to Brown Street.  There had never been an El Paso High School Softball field prior to 2011.  And summer league teams in neighborhoods surrounding El Paso High would have a place to practice and play games without traveling for several miles to some other park.  These are kids who may some day be stand-out players for the EPHS softball or baseball teams.

In addition to the start of construction for the ball park, a committee was appointed at EPHS to select a name for the new baseball/softball facility.  The committee was composed of EPHS alumni, faculty, and students.  The selection was conducted according to guidelines established by the school board, but this selection process took longer than usual because administrative roadblocks brought-on when the then principal was removed and an interim principal was appointed.  After many months of processing and waiting, the special committee on naming the baseball/softball complex recommended it be named posthumously in honor of George Clifton Hodge, EPHS Class of 1966, the first known Black student at EPHS who was a class favorite in two years and a varsity letterman for four years in baseball and basketball, and a three-year varsity letterman in football.  Additionally, George Hodge was the first El Paso High athlete ever selected in the Major League Baseball Draft.  George Hodge was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies and played in the minors for the Phillies organization.  His professional career was cut short by a knee injury. 

It must be noted here that although George Hodge was the first player from EPHS to be selected in the MLB draft, legendary EPHS Tiger brothers, Sid and Andy Cohen played in the major leagues against the likes of Ruth and DiMaggio, but in those days there was no formal draft as we know it today.

In 2012 the El Paso High select committee prepared and submitted to the EPISD Board of Trustees the appropriate application to have the recently completed baseball/softball complex named for George Hodge.  Action on that application was delayed from October to the following January so that the Trustee for the Bowie/El Paso High District could gain a better understanding of the sentiment of the district's constituents.  When the matter was again brought before he trustees in January 2013, the vote was unanimous and the home of EPHS Tiger Baseball and Softball would henceforth be known as George Hodge Ball Park.

The school board also approved a plan in the naming application to erect a monument at the ball park to explain who was George Hodge, for whom the ball park is named.  The school district will contribute no funds for a monument or signage at the ball park.  The George Hodge Monument is to be in the form of a large cast plaque mounted on a seven-foot tall boulder of native rock of the type already used for landscaping at the ball park.  The monument and it's surrounding plaza have been designed under the direction of architect Carl Campos, CEO of LCA Architects in Walnut Creek, CA.  Campos is an EPHS Tiger, Class of 69, and former varsity baseball player while at EPHS. When a rendering of the monument has been approved, it will be displayed at this photo gallery.  Contributions for the George Hodge Monument Project are being accepted by the El Paso High School Alumni Association, El Paso High School, 800 E Schuster Avenue, El Paso  TX 79902.  Please mark in the Memo section of your check "George Hodge Monument Project," and if you are an alumnus of EPHS, please write your class year (e.g., Co1966) above the date.

Take a tour of George Hodge Ball Park.  Even if you have seen the ball fields while passing along Rim Road or Brown Street, this tour will probably display a different, maybe even more inviting perspective.  Here's the newest addition to the EPHS campus and the school's athletic venues.

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