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Inside the Runyon Field Sports Complex Part III

DiIorio Field hosted the Jets and the Colorado Cougars in the 14-under division on June 23, 2018, at the Runyon Field Sports Complex (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)DiIorio Field hosted the Jets and the Colorado Cougars in the 14-under division on June 23, 2018, at the Runyon Field Sports Complex (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)

 


Jim DiIorio Field was named after a man who did things the right way

This is the third 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 | JUL 8, 2018

One of the toughest parts of being a parent is having to watch children grow up fast. They go from barely being able to hit a baseball off of a tee to knocking home runs over the fence in the blink of an eye.

Corsentino Field at the Runyon Sports Complex must have had this same emotional reaction since the amount of homers coming from their 12-and-under division seemed to be growing faster than the kids themselves. This was most likely a result from the recent switch in little leagues that the complex decided to make.

Babe Ruth Baseball was the league of choice used at Runyon and it called for a 46-foot difference from the mound to the plate, 60-foot base paths, smaller bats and no leading off on the bases. In the 1990s, the state of Colorado started to switch more to American Amateur Baseball Conference (AABC) style of leagues.

The distances increased to 50-foot mounds and 70-foot basepaths for 12-and-under and 10-feet more on each for the 14-and-under. Plus leading off was allowed. Corsentino Field simply could not hold that age group any longer..

"The kids loved it because they were never able to lead off base, they felt like they were playing real baseball," Dave Dudley, the general manager of the complex, said. "Why teach them wrong and then go back and have to teach them right?"

"I remember one of the kids on my team when we were playing 12-and-under on Corsentino Field hit 42 home runs," Dudley said. "The field was too small. 12-year-olds outgrew it."

The solution was to build a new youth field with bigger dimensions to help keep more balls in the yard. Everyone loves the long ball, but the goal is to teach the children the roots of the game, which is why the field was named after a man who always put the young players first: Jim DiIorio.

Sports were always an important part of DiIorio's life, but according to his son Jimmy DiIorio, nothing was above "God, family and the youth." He moved to Pueblo from Italy when he was 6-years-old and fell in love with sports.

That was obvious to Jimmy after seeing his dad coach not only baseball, but basketball and soccer as well. He coached all three of his children as well -- Jimmy, Michelle and Steven. No matter what sport it was, DiIorio took it seriously and wanted the children to learn the game the right way.

"Playing the game the right way," Jimmy said on his dad's coaching style. "Holding your head up whether you won or lost, acting respectful. Just doing things the right way, without a doubt."

Jeremy Trujillo, 13, delivers a pitch for the Jets during in June at DiIorio Field at the Runyon Field Sports Complex (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)Jeremy Trujillo, 13, delivers a pitch for the Jets during in June at DiIorio Field at the Runyon Field Sports Complex (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)After teaching that philosophy for 15 years, the end came sooner than anyone expected. DiIorio was out of town with his team when he had a heart attack on the baseball diamond. It would later take his life in April 2001. He was only 45.

"I did not know him that well, I came to know more about him afterwards," Dudley said. "I knew him and he was just really a nice guy…He was just a great guy as far as taking kids and working with them."

Even from afar, it was easy to tell the love DiIorio had for helping the youth and that is why friends of his strongly advocated for his name to go on the second youth field at Runyon. The DiIorio family was honored to see so much support for a man who gave everything for his children and his "other children," as it was described in his obituary.

"I think he would be very humbled, partly embarrassed that they named it after him," Jimmy said. "He didn't do it for any glory or recoginition by any means. It was all about the kids."

The decision seemed pretty simple and DiIorio Field was officially named in 2001 following DiIorio's death, according to Jimmy.

As for the field itself, the diamond was first built in 1994 to give some of the older divisions a better and more fairer place to play. Construction seemed to be tricky for the field as the road to the second half of the parking lot at Runyon runs behind the field.


"I think he would be very humbled, partly embarrassed that they named it after him.He didn't do it for any glory or recoginition by any means. It was all about the kids."
JIMMY DIIORIO 
JIM DIIORIO'S SON


That could be what caused the right field wall to be double the height of the rest of the fence. Dudley said he was unsure as to why that was built that way. The wall is only 250 feet from home plate compared to the 270-foot dimension to left field side. The taller fence in right field made it tougher to hit home runs.

DiIorio Field also is the only field at the complex where the three outfield dimensions are different. Center field measures 290 feet while every other field has at least two dimensions that are the same.

Having a field built for just one or two divisions of baseball would be somewhat of a waste though, which is why the field has also become a softball hub in Pueblo. Along with Max Salas Field and Corsentino Field, they provide a haven for high school softball and host all Pueblo-area home games, except for Pueblo West.

The transition is simple as the grounds crew placeing portable fences across the outfield to match the 230-feet distance at Salas Field.

With the high school season set to begin in August, the field is just over a month away from beginning the fall season and once again welcome softball fans from around the city back to their gathering place at DiIorio Field.

awhite@chieftain.com

 

A Jim DiIorio Field dedication plaque sits behind the backstop at the field (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)A Jim DiIorio Field dedication plaque sits behind the backstop at the field (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)

The DiIorio Field scoreboard sits in right-center field at the field named in honor of Jim DiIorio (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)The DiIorio Field scoreboard sits in right-center field at the field named in honor of Jim DiIorio (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ZACHARY ALLEN)