SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — “The first time I knew this park existed was the summer of 1972 going to Mornignside. I’ve been coming up here for the last 50 years and loving every minute of it,” Delbert Christensen said.

Softball fans have been loving Hubbard Park since the 1930s. Some 4,000 fans showed up in July of 1940 on opening night.

“The crowds that Penn Corp, NHCD and the Soo’s brought into this place,” Steve Hauge added.

“I literally grew up here. I lived over there at 2814 Jennings Street. Played softball down here. Softball players were my heroes. I used to be a batboy in the dugout. I grew up here,” Pete Sandman said.

Pete Sandman would eventually become one of the world’s most feared fastpitch softball pitchers. Those days may be gone but his love for the game and this park are not.

“I parked over here and looked around and it was like historic Hubbard Park was just going to become history. I just thought it was time to get something done,” said Sandman.

So, Sandman, longtime park caretaker Steve Hauge and umpire Delbert Christensen hatched a plan to bring the unique ballpark back to life. With a goal of eventually putting the park on the National Register of Historic Places.

“I got moved back here mid-May 2021. I looked around and said this isn’t the park I used to know,” said Christensen.

The work started almost immediately.

“No problem putting sweat equity it’s worth it,” said Christensen. “Progress is being made one day at a time.”

“Stands power washed, primed, painted. The bathrooms are all clean. Plumbing taken care of. The press box redone,” Hauge added.

“Redo the parking, new scoreboard, paint the stands, building and concessions have been done,” said Sandman.

Weather permitting, just in time for a game to be played this weekend.

From the 30s to the 40s, 70s and 80s, Hubbard Park was a magnet for activity. Ice skating in the winter months, a traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial and home to the circus, not to mention world-class softball in the summer.

“There are people in this town that don’t know the park is here and the flip side is there are people all over the world that know this park is here, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada,” said Hauge.

“In Iowa, this is comparable to Wrigley Field. This is the Wrigley Field of softball and darn near as old,” Delbert said.

“The only place I can compare it with was when I pitched in Cuba in the Pan Am Games in places like this with free admission and they weren’t cheering for us,” said Sandman. “You can’t build a stadium like this, but you can refurbish it. Delbert said it’s a diamond in the ruff. Little ruff but it can be fixed up.”

“A unique venue that needs to be spruced up to have more life,” said Christensen.

“I drug it a couple times all the bad hops are out of it. Agri lime is looking good. If only we were young enough to take some balls,” said Hauge. “We’ve got to get the lines painted for games next week, few more trees to clean up. We’re in a lot better shape this year than we were a year ago.”

As the Hubbard Park facelift continues, so do the opportunities to put the park back on the softball radar.

“Good for the sport of softball, good for the park, and good for the city. This is a marketable facility once it gets spruced up,” said Christensen.

“As long as the park is used for games, I’m satisfied. That’s all I want,” Hauge said.

Hopefully, we get to where we have 90-95% games and 5-10% practice at historic Hubbard Park.