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Inside the Runyon Field Sports Complex Part II

The Twisters go on offense against the Heart Breakers at Corsentino Field at the Runyon Sports Complex in mid-June. (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)

All-Turf infield at Corsentino Field welcomes both youth softball and baseball

This is the second of a six-part series taking an in-depth look at the six fields at the Runyon Field Sports Complex. Chieftain sports writer Austin White will be providing a history of each field as well as how it was named and what events take place on each of the six fields at the complex during the year.

BY AUSTIN WHITE | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUN 30, 2018

Normally, the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is reserved for being played at a ball game.

For Sam Corsentino, his love for baseball and softball had a much more meaningful impact on his life to which that song wasn't reserved for one location.

"I had the organist play 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' (as soon as the precession started)," Sam's daughter Mary Beth Corsentino said. "You could just hear people kind of like going 'awww.' Isn't that awesome? I get teary just thinking about it."

In 1958, baseball took a major blow in Pueblo as the Western League, a former minor league to the MLB, folded. The Pueblo Bruins, who called Runyon Field home, were one of the league members. They dissolved along with the league.

Without the financial backing of a professional team, money became tight around the complex. Sam would not allow for the place that had become his second home to go underground though.

His daughter described ways they found to cut down on some costs to keep the complex running like it always had. Sam would pick up rocks off the field himself after games, often times getting players from the participating teams to give him a hand.

The members of the Runyon board would take turns at the concession time to avoid having to pay for extra employees. Of course, plenty of other tasks to be done and Sam never shied away from doing it for the place he loved.

"Some of the coaches used to get mad at (Sam)," Mary Beth said. "He would try to save energy costs by turning the lights off if games went real late."

"Sam was in my position for quite a few years and ran a tight ship," current general manager of the Runyon Sports Complex Dave Dudley said. "We didn't have the financial backing at that time to do much and he made things work."

And he did primarily all of this work as an unpaid volunteer. Toward the end of his time with helping at Runyon he finally received some pay, but helping at the complex was never about dollar signs, just like most of his other work.

The World War II veteran was once named the District VI Commissioner of Babe Ruth Baseball's 16-18 year old division and served as Assistant State Commissioner for all of Colorado. Corsentino was a member of the Runyon board along with being the director and he also volunteered his time for 10 years helping people with special needs for Pueblo Diversified Industries.

Between all of that, he found a way to referee high school sports for more than 30 years, served three terms on Pueblo City Council, was a HARP Foundation contributor, ran his business "Bucky's" and helped fellow Italian-Americans in the Pueblo community. His love for Pueblo and its people was unquestionably big.

But Corsentino focused a majority of his attention to the children who called the first youth field built at Runyon home. Today, that same sacred diamond is named after the man who looked after it most.

"Sam was in my position for quite a few years and ran a tight ship. We didn't have the financial backing at that time to do much and he made things work."

Corsentino Field.

Back in the day, the 200-foot dimensions across the entire outfield wall use to be deep enough for 12-and-under baseball to be played. Nowadays, those players have outgrown the field that was built in 1985 and have been moved to different fields. That allowed for 10-and-under baseball to move in while all levels of softball continued to play on the field.

The entire field used to be all natural until recently when the infield was replaced with turf. Dudley said the motivation behind the change was to give the growing players a chance to learn the game properly.

"I like the turf for (Corsentino)," Dudley said. "The little guys tend to make better habits by fielding off of turf rather than a place where there is maybe a rock or something that causes them to pull their head or something."

The most unique part about Corsentino Field though has nothing to do with the actual playing surface. Parents and fans must watch games from behind the outfield fence.

Part of the reason for placing the bleachers beyond the outfield was the location of the field. The diamond is squeezed between Andenucio and DiIorio fields. The lack of space prevented stands for spectators to be placed around the home plate area like normal layouts.

However, Corsentino and Dudley agreed that the bigger reason was to help the players. Often times parents can become a little too involved in their children's athletic growth. Keeping them in the outfield prevents that from occuring.

Dudley has seen players go to the on-deck circle and look for their parents in the crowd for advice, rather than listening to the coach hired to do the same job. That creates a hostile environment for the youngsters as they have to decide who to believe and trust.

"He had this other motive for it that you needed to let (the players) be little boys and little girls," Mary Beth said. "You can't put that kind of pressure on little kids."

None of the renovations and improvements at Runyon could have been possible without the help of a select few, one of which being Corsentino. That is why is in April of 2007 the decision was made to name the field in his honor and recognize the man forever.

Despite snowy conditions on that April day, Corsentino and his family insisted on having the ceremony. Corsentino was 88 at the time. He passed seven years later on Nov. 7, 2014.

"My uncle's only been gone a couple years, he died after my dad. Longevity reigns in my family." Mary Beth said. "That was his special place, so when they named the field after him, it was one of the highlights of his life."

Thanks to the longevity of Corsentino's contributions, boys and girls around all of Pueblo and Southern Colorado have the opportunity to make Corsentino Field their special place as well.

"He had this other motive for it that you needed to let (the players) be little boys and girls. You can't put that kind of pressure on little kids."



The scoreboard at Corsentino Field at the Runyon Sports Complex (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)

Zoey Hines, 12, of Pueblo West Twisters softball team, pitches in the second inning at Corsentino Field at the Runyon Sports Complex in mid-June. (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)