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Pekin High School has one of the weirdest baseball fields in the country. It has claimed many victims along the way.
Pekin, located in central Illinois, is about 10 miles from Peoria, 100 miles from Champaign and 175 miles from Chicago. Its population hovers around 30,000 with a high school enrollment of just under 2,000.
There are some unique high school baseball fields out there. Dimensions are the most common oddity across the country, with varying lengths from left field to center field and so on and so forth. Some of the weirder fields feature protruding objects, tracks, or other hazards within their confines.
Pekin’s field is something of a mix. Its dimensions are fairly standard, but right field is a problem.
Satellite imagery doesn’t really do it justice, but there is a hill… in right field.
It’s inside the fence, in the field of play. There is an actual hill (with a decent slope to it), literally in the outfield.
The Dragons, as they are known, are 4-4 thus far into the 2023 season and hold a significant home-field advantage. Opposing high schools have no idea what to do with the hill.
If a ball is hit out to right, the outfielder must know when the slope is coming and play the ball accordingly. Pekin gets to practice on the field every day, so they have adjusted to the sudden change of slope in right field. Their opponents do not get time to adjust and often end up getting a face full of grass.
That was the case over the weekend.
The Dragons hitter ripped a ball to right, and the outfielder immediately got on his horse. As he has been coached to do, the outfielder never took his eye off of the ball while tracking it down, which ultimately ended up being his downfall. Literally.
He never saw the hill coming.
Despite the significant home-field advantage, Pekin has lost more games at home than it has won through the first eight games. Perhaps the Dragons should focus their efforts on only hitting fly balls to right field?