Catawba Supporters Bill and Rosemary Hall: Committed to Newman Park Renovation
July 13, 2021
For Bill and Rosemary Hall, contributing to the renovation of Newman Park is an investment in Catawba College, as well as in Rowan County economic development. They are dedicated to the current $10 million fund-raising efforts. “There are so many positives,” Bill says. “It’s good for overall development and a recruitment tool for Catawba.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to not only maintain a historic structure but also to help Catawba and the community,” he adds. He calls the project “a drawing card for tourism, economic development, and students. The potential use is amazing. It’s another venue for Salisbury.”
Bill first stepped on the Newman Park baseball field as a junior at West Rowan High School when the Falcons played in the state championship game. That was in 1961, and they won the game. He has been connected to Newman Park, home turf for both Catawba and Rowan County American Legion baseball, ever since. That’s 60 years of Catawba Baseball.
He watched Barry Moore, his West Rowan teammate from Woodleaf, strike out 20 batters in a single game at Newman Park, and go on to play for the Washington Senators. He remembers Randy Benson of Granite Quarry, hitting the lead-off homerun in an American Legion game that clinched the championship. He has a lifetime of sports memories connected to Newman Park.
Bill and his friend Bob Setzer are fund-raisers for the Catawba sports program, or “fun raisers,” as Bill likes to say. The current joint community/college Campaign for Newman Park to renovate the 95-year-old baseball park is their primary focus.
“Newman Park is special,” he says. It’s arguably the third or fourth continuously running baseball park in North Carolina. It hasn’t been shut down, but there has not been a great deal of money from Catawba or the American Legion to put back into it. They didn’t have the money.”
For the facilities, the result is decaying grandstands, making seating unsafe; and outdated restrooms, locker rooms, press box, concession space, bullpens, and batting cages. For the playing field, the result is flooding after heavy rain, requiring significant upkeep and loss of playing time, and an outfield with a noticeable grade, resulting in a shorter back wall.
Bill lives for the day of a synthetic turf, new dugouts and restrooms, new locker rooms, new batter cages, a renovated grandstand, a new backstop and safe netting configuration, new bleachers, a new picnic deck, new press box, new concession stand, and new public restrooms.
The renovations are a smart economic tool for Rowan County, especially for the west end of Salisbury, he says. The improvements will bring baseball fans here for high school playoffs, private tournaments, baseball camps, the Wood Bat League, and more, as well as college and the American Legion teams and fans. The new entertainment deck can be used for events of all kinds, he says.
“The Newman Park renovations are vital to the future of our campus and the Salisbury/Rowan community,” said Catawba College President David Nelson. “I’m so grateful for Bill and Rosemary, who inspire us all to support the mission of Catawba College and the aspirations of the students we serve.”
Bill and Rosemary are loyal fans of all Catawba sports. Rosemary is one of Catawba’s most loyal fans, Bill says. You’ll find her at baseball, basketball, football, softball, tennis, track, and beach volleyball events. She’s been attending Catawba sports events for 33 years, since her marriage to Bill and move to Salisbury from Kansas. “Baseball is my favorite,” she says. “You have to really watch it … really be into it.”
She’s watched the deterioration at Newman Park for 30 years, she says, and can hardly wait to see the renovations come to fruition.
Bill, who grew up in Cleveland, says he was influenced to attend Catawba by his high school baseball coach, Bob Rusher, and basketball coach, Bob Flynn. Both were Catawba graduates. He chose Catawba over Clemson University and graduated in 1966 with a major in Health and Physical Education and a minor in History.
He left for his master’s degree in Education at UNC-Chapel Hill and other jobs and then came back to Catawba in 1983 as Director of Admissions. He also served as Director of Student Activities, Dean of Student Affairs, and Dean of Admissions. He then worked for Josten Yearbooks and came back to Catawba again after his retirement, taking on sports projects such as golf tournaments and helping with fund-raising, along with Bob Setzer.
“I learned how to communicate at Catawba,” he says. “I learned to listen to people, and I figured out that I didn’t know everything in the world. There were people who could help me, and they did. Catawba will always be the place that I feel helped me.”
Meg Dees, Catawba’s vice president of development, added, “I am amazed and humbled by friends and “fun raisers” like Bill and Rosemary. We can’t thank them enough for their unwavering support and dedication to Catawba College. The Newman Park Renovation project continues to be a top priority for us because it impacts everyone in the Catawba family and the Salisbury/Rowan community.”