Review by Gary & Mike
Named after Ron Oestrike, a legendary baseball coach at Eastern Michigan University, Oestrike Stadium was completed in 1971. It is primarily used for baseball and softball and stands on the campus of EMU, home of the Eagles. The stadium had a brief spell hosting professional baseball as the home field of the Midwest Sliders of the Frontier League in 2009 and 2010.
On the morning we visited, there were baseball tryouts ongoing, which allowed us enter the park and stroll around, perhaps catching sight of the next Bob Welch or Bob Owchinko, Major Leaguers who played in Oestrike Stadium during their time at EMU.
The college team has played here for decades, from basic beginnings, thru upgrades in 1988, when the press box was added under the grandstand roof behind home plate, then in 2000 lights the lights were added, and in 2007 when the entire infield was ripped out and replaced with Pro Grass. That turf was replaced in 2017 with Pro Turf, which requires far less maintenance, and cost, than traditional grass and dirt.
The wooden plank outfield fence gave it a nice old-timey feel, as well as the lovely roof, complete with steel pillars, that extended to protect all of the 2,500 grandstand seats from the elements. If one didn’t know that is was built in 1971, one might think that this nice little ballpark harkened back to WPA days. The exterior of the grandstand is draped in banners that pay homage to former pro ballplayers who graced the field, championship teams of the past, and Ron Oestrike himself.
It’s well-maintained and certainly a good enough facility to host summer collegiate ball or independent minor league baseball again. Until then, it seems to serve the community and the university well. As the EMU website reports, “most Mid-American conference games are played under the lights at Oestrike.”