Club sports often get the short end of the stick when it comes to athletic facilities. An exception, however, is the ISU baseball club, which has inherited Cap Timm Field — once named the best playing surface in the Big 12 Baseball Conference.
It was 2001 when the ISU baseball program last played an NCAA sanctioned game at Cap Timm. Due to budget cuts, the university had to cut the program and ultimately handed the field over to the club baseball team.
The complex is named after Leroy C. “Cap” Timm. Timm was the longest tenured coach in the program's history after holding the head coaching position from 1937 to 1974, and helped the Cyclones reach the College World Series twice. Timm did however take a leave of absence from 1942 to 1946 in order to serve in the U.S. Military.
“We take great pride in this field with all of the history that comes with it,” said Elliot Frey, ISU club baseball president. “Rec services and our guys take great care of this field.”
Brent Cunningham, who is employed by Recreation Services, is the primary caretaker of the field. Cunningham, who graduated with a degree in turfgrass in 2005, is one of the biggest reasons Cap Timm Field is one of the nicest playing surfaces in the National Club Baseball Association.
The many tasks Cunningham and his team face while taking care of the field include mowing, fertilizing, aerating and pulling weeds from the playing surface.
“My team and I do most of the major tasks, but the baseball club does a great job of doing the little things like taking care of the dirt and such,” Cunningham said.
Sophomores Justin Kelm and Matt Odland are two of the biggest contributors on the field. The two spend time after every practice and game to get the field to where it needs to be.
"Having a good field is great. If you’re playing a nice field, then you are going to want to play really good baseball as a team,” Odland said.
Odland, a catcher, takes great pride in the home plate area. A typical day of fieldwork requires filling in the holes left in the batters box by filling it with clay. He will then soak the clay with water and tamp it down in order to secure the clay into dirt. Odland also rakes the infield prior to it being dragged.
“My high school coach would always say, 'do we want junk field or a nice field?'” Kelm said. “ He really taught us the importance of having a nice field.”
Kelm quickly caught on and from then on took great pride in any field he played on. Once Kelm got to Iowa State he quickly saw that no one really worked on the field and took it upon himself to change that. After a lot of work, the field has turned into Kelm and Odland's sanctuary.
Jeff Mallas, who has been volunteering for the baseball club for several years, is also a big contributor to the fieldwork. Mallas puts in several hours a day at the field and seems to know everything to know about fieldwork.
“Jeff is a big help to our team. He at the field hours before everyone else and brings an atmosphere to the team that really lightens the mood,” Frey said.
While the field is already one of the nicest in the region, several players have commented on some additions they would like to see in the future. A popular one was a new backstop and new grass around the pitchers mound.
“It’s just great to show off our field to opposing teams, friends, family and the students,” Kelm said.
For now, Cap Timm Field will have to move on without any additions, but either way, the field is something to be proud of. Filled with history, the Cyclones look to add a little more history this year and bring back some hardware to Cap Timm Field.