The future is looking brighter for Maynard Glenn Ballpark.
The baseball/softball park in the middle of the South Haven neighborhood has been hosting kids for generations in an ever-increasing state of shabbiness, but all of a sudden it’s getting some TLC.
This summer, South Knoxville Youth Sports was able to get the city’s Parks & Recreation Department to install new nets at the top of the fences to keep balls from disturbing neighbors’ property. McClung Avenue, the quiet street on which the park is located, was recently blacktopped, although the directional sign to the park has not been reinstalled.
In August, SKYS commissioner Julia Weissinger took her case to the community via the microfunding dinner Knoxville SOUP. She shared the sad – and somewhat dangerous – plight of the ballpark and its needs for improved safety and security with SOUP attendees and ended up winning the pot of door donations: a record $1,460.
Weissinger told how the park had struggled to get attention to take care of its fields through the years, and how the paint on the driveway and parking lot was so faded that people parked however they pleased – to the point where emergency vehicles had trouble getting through to medical situations.
She explained that there was no lighting in the parking lot after the field lights were turned off, and park volunteers felt uneasy walking back to their cars after cleaning up.
Before the SOUP winner was announced, diners were overheard reminiscing about the ballpark: “My daughter played softball there.” “My nephew grew up playing ball there.” “My son played there and is taking his kids now.”
Maynard Glenn definitely had the nostalgia vote. And between that and winning over new fans, the ballpark easily outdistanced the competition.
Winning SOUP was the catalyst for what looks like a renaissance at the park. Weissinger wrote to the South Knoxville Alliance, which presents Knoxville SOUP, to express her thanks and to give an update:
“Those of us who have been in this ballpark and the South Haven Community for all the years, me since 1994, the corner of McClung and Hackman is a second home,” she wrote. “So many children have played on these four fields, and now are returning with their own children to enjoy the experience of playing baseball and softball.
“The city of Knoxville Parks and Recreation leaders have responded to the community’s leaders and interested individuals who have called the office with support beyond the SOUP dinner. There has been an agreement to pave the parking lot and install security lighting. The money raised at the dinner will help offset some of the costs. Possibly other needed items can be purchased for the park.”
Enhancements to the park would be a worthy tribute to its namesake. “Coach” Maynard Glenn was director of the city Parks & Recreation Department (formerly bureau) for 30 years. Among his other accomplishments, he was instrumental in creating a Little League for the city’s African-American youth in the 1950s.
He was twice president of the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association (1963-64, 1975-76), and an annual TRPA award is given in his name to personnel or specialists who have planned, conducted or were responsible for the most outstanding recreation program during the year.
Betsy Pickle is a veteran entertainment, features and news reporter who particularly enjoys spotlighting South Knoxville.