Ribbon Cutting Ceremony held Saturday
Tyson Memorial Sports Complex ready for action

Wanda English Burnett


Play Ball! Famous words that will be heard for decades to come thanks to a winning team who worked together to make the Tyson Memorial Sports Complex a reality.

The grand opening and dedication of the complex was held Saturday morning, May 15 complete with a ribbon cutting ceremony by Versailles Town Council, flag ceremony by the Versailles American Legion Post 173 and the first ceremonial pitch thrown out by council member Sue Meisberger.

All of this took place just before the opening season where three different teams took to the fields to begin their summer series headed up by Steve and Ashley Franklin. This year there are 33 teams, 9 different divisions and nearly 400 youth participating, according to Steve. He was excited about the new facility saying, “We couldn’t have anything better.”

As Donald Tankersley, park board president, cut the ribbon officially opening the new complex, he said, “It will be well used for years to come.” John Holzer, town board president noted, “Although it’s been a struggle, we’re seeing it happen.” He thanked the town employees, saying he was very proud of all of their efforts with the project. Kevin Hensley was praised for his dedication.

The flag was presented by legion member Jesse Westmeyer to John Holzer, who noted, “With sincere thanks and appreciation I accept this beautiful and precious flag on behalf of the Versailles Town Council and the Tyson Memorial Sports Complex.” The flag was then erected in a ceremony provided by the Versailles American Legion.

The new sports complex that has been four years in the making has seen many people working toward one common goal. “It was a group effort by a lot of people who just wanted to help kids,” noted Jerry Gilpin, one of the original board members who initiated the concept.

The summer baseball leagues had formerly played on a much smaller field at the Pangburn Park for more than 50 years.

Jeff Cornett, Jeff French, Jim Roepke, Shawn Halcomb, Brad Samples and Von McGuire, were also on the initial board, according to Gilpin. The board now consists of Donald Tankersley, president, Jeff Cumberworth, Brad Samples, Dee Dee Fields, Andi Richter and John Brison.

Right now there are three fields, with the fourth one in the making for youth to play baseball, a new concession area and restrooms. The flagpole is centrally located between the fields that will soon be shared with soccer fields.

“We have a lot of future goals,” noted Cumberworth, who is a park board member. He said the soccer fields are the next to be developed as finances allow. There will be additional restrooms and parking, basketball courts, and even tennis. Plans are in the making to have walking trails that will go around the sports complex and through a wooded area. The complex is located at 1700 County Road 50 W just off Tanglewood Road. Of course all of the additions will depend on money. They would like to have the fields lighted, but that would cost about a half million dollars.

James Tyson still giving

According to information presented at the ceremony, James Henry Tyson donated 18,000 shares of Walgreen stock in the early 1900’s. This established the Tyson Fund that has impacted the Versailles community in so many ways.

The fund has helped to build the Methodist Church, library, waterworks, and many other community programs and activities that are still enjoyed today.

The board members of the fund were thanked for their generous grant to the sport complex.
Also giving to the project was the Rising Sun Regional Foundation.

History of Pangburn Park

Before Pangburn Park, the location of hundreds of baseball games over the years, there was just an empty field in the town of Versailles. That field became the current Pangburn Park in 1952, thanks to the late Gus Moorhead, who generated interest in Versailles for a summer youth baseball league in the early 1950’s.
According to information presented by Dee Dee Fields, Mr. Moorhead teamed up with Bill Pangburn, who was a local salesman, selling janitorial supplies to area schools.

Pangburn raised a lot of money through his local and business contacts that was initially used to build and run the park. He volunteered his time and talents to initially plan the erection of the park and afterwards to run the operational activities there. He was the first town park board member of record. It was noted that Pangburn owned the park and later donated it to the town.

Roscoe “Lefty” Sutherlin was a local engineer who volunteered to design the layout for the ballpark. It was noted that many people volunteered physical labor to turn the field into a ballpark.

The Versailles Lions Club and American Legion Post #173 were also instrumental in the building of the park. The field was completed in 1952 and in 1953 the first Little League team was born in Versailles.
The town hired Mr. Moorhead in 1954 to operate the summer youth baseball program. There were three teams that year in the Little League age category. A few years later, the Knothole League age category was added and the program began to grow.

Mr. Moorhead’s wife, Mary Margaret, was in attendance at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday and said it was quite impressive to see the facility. She recalled the formative years when her husband would have the players pick up rocks before each game to help clear the field. He would also pile the players in a red pickup truck owned by the town to take them to games played out of town.

While a lot has changed over the years, people in the area are still passionate about sporting events for youth. Much more than a game is played at the sports complex. It’s about the spirit of cooperation and teamwork that will be remembered long after the game is over.

Town council members, John Holzer, Dee Dee Benkie, and Sue Meisberger, were in attendance at the opening day ceremony. Benkie told The Versailles Republican, “We have a lot of big improvement projects for Versailles in the works. The sports complex is just a home run and was made possible with a great team!” She gave a special thanks to the park board for their commitment and continued hard work on the project as well as Jerry Gilpin who has been a strong ally all along.

Pictured above from left are Sue Meisberger, Versailles Town Council member, Don Tankersley, Versailles Park Board President, and John Holzer, Versailles Town Council President, as they cut the ribbon for the Tyson Memorial Sports Complex on Saturday, May 15. Pictured below, Versailles American Legion member, Jesse Westmeyer, left, is assisted by Holzer as they raise the flag given to the complex by the legion at the ceremony on Saturday.