Valley High School baseball player Jeff Wood (#9) was remembered on 9/9/09 as the school dedicated their new baseball field last Wednesday just prior to their game with Panguitch.

VHS Principal Jim Wood welcomed the fans, then turned the mic over to Athletic Director Ferril Heaton, who named off a list of those who contributed to the new field, and then thanked them for their contributions. He said the bleachers had arrived just the afternoon before and many volunteers were there until midnight putting them together, 

VHS baseball coach Bret Lamb then spoke of Valley player Jeff Wood, who died in a freak accident during practice on July 30. Lamb told the fans Wood’s jersey would hang in their dugout for the whole season, and even travel with the team. Then he gestured to his players who were lined up in right field to unveil a sign with Wood’s jersey, number 9, on the fence. He added Jeff’s teammates also sport a “JW” on their uniforms in tribute to Wood. The Valley High baseball squad is dedicating their season to their fallen teammate. The team also has practice T-shirts that read “Finish it. This one’s for Jeff.”  Lamb said, “They were boys when we started the season. They’ve since transformed into young men.”

Kane School District Superintendent Robert Johnson, along with School Board President Lex Chamberlain, presented a plaque to the Wood family. The plaque had a photo of Jeff in his baseball uniform, along with several notable quotes. Johnson asked the Wood family to display it somewhere prominently in the high school until the end of the school year, then they could take it home.

Chamberlain, accompanied by school board members Joe Houston and Wendy Allan, then cut the ribbon to the new field.

Kane School District finance manager Cary Reese thanked those who helped on the field, but wanted to single out Tyler Houston for all of his contributions. Houston designed the new field, purchased and hauled the infield dirt and gravel from Phoenix and spent numerous hours with his own equipment working on the project. He even secured and set the cyclone fencing around the field, as well as the netting behind home plate. Houston was honored with a plaque and then threw out the first pitch to start the Valley/Panguitch game.

Also unveiled at the brand new ballpark was a rock sculpture of a “Buffalo,” Valley High School’s mascot, near the water fountain. Jerry Stringham, of Orderville, carved the buffalo, taking three months to do so.

There is also a building under construction that will house a concessions stand, equipment room and rest rooms. All in all, it’s one of the finest facilities for baseball in the state of Utah.

The Buffaloes lost the game to Panguitch 4-2, in a tight defensive battle. Paul Kesling pitched for Valley, holding the Bobcats to four runs, but the Buffs offense could only muster the two runs.

For the first pitch of the game, there was a void in right field, as Jeff’s teammates honored him and started the game without a rightfielder.