Over the past few months, Ehlert Park Field No. 5 has undergone quite a transformation. The infield has been converted from grass to dirt, the dugouts painted and a new scoreboard installed.
And yet, something still felt missing. That is, until Sunday.
The renovation was truly completed during the Dan Hull Softball Field dedication over the weekend. The unveiling of the “Dan Hull Field” sign at the top-center of the scoreboard drew a round of spirited applause.
“It’s a great facility now for girls softball,” said Kevin Krueger, vice president of Brookfield Little League Softball. “The kids and parents love it. Parents who were leaving our program for other softball programs like Burr Ridge and Berwyn are coming back to play softball here.”
Installation of the blue-and-yellow scoreboard was financed by the First National Bank of Brookfield. Phil Richards, the bank’s chief financial officer, presented a check for $4,000 during the league’s opening day ceremony on April 21.
Hull, who died on March 29 at the age of 75, coached Brookfield’s Little League softball team to a World Series title in 1985. The Illinois General Assembly declared Brookfield the “Home of Softball in Illinois” after the 1985 team rolled through district, state, regional and World Series games without a loss.
In addition to coaching that historic team, Hull coached the Nazareth Academy and Riverside-Brookfield High School softball teams, as well Triton College’s softball and women’s basketball teams.
Sunday’s ceremony honored the longtime Brookfield resident who influenced so many lives as a coach, police officer and saloon owner.
“Under the leadership of the current Brookfield National Little League Board, a decision was made to renovate Ehlert No. 5 into a softball field,” Krueger said. “We thought there’s no better person to dedicate the field to than Dan Hull.
“Whether he was coaching children, teenagers or a men’s team, he had a passion for sports and people. People respected him and paid attention to him, which made him a great police officer and coach.”
At the dedication, Hull’s granddaughters Maggie and Ginny sang the National Anthem, and his wife, Mary Margaret, threw out the first pitch. A game followed between Brookfield’s Major Girls teams, coached by Angelo Annoreno and Dan Nelson, respectively. The teams played to an 8-8 tie over four innings.
Another granddaughter, Malia Davis, pitched for Annoreno’s team. Becky Davis, Malia’s mother and Hull’s daughter, had the game-winning hit in a 1-0 win over a team from California to clinch the 1985 World Series for Brookfield.
“That team was really a reflection of his coaching,” Becky Davis said. “Everything came together for that team and we went all the way. My sister, Katie, played on Brookfield’s 1983 state championship team.
“My dad felt it was important as well to recognize so many other Brookfield softball teams that won district, state and regional championships.”
Sixteen members of the Hull family attended Sunday’s dedication, including Hull’s wife, Mary Margaret, their children, Katie, Jennifer, Becky and Danny, along with spouses and grandchildren.
“I thought the field dedication was quite an honor for Dan and the Hull family,” Annoreno said. “There had to be over 100 people at the ceremony. The game was very fun and celebratory.”
As for the Dan Hull Field scoreboard, it offers a deserving reminder of a great coach.
“It’s always going to be comforting for us,” Becky Davis said about seeing the scoreboard. “It’s a nice way to keep that part of my dad alive.”