The Men Behind Courtright—Emerson Ballpark on its 40 Year Anniversary ~ By Ralph Emerson

Arnold, CA…Mike Courtright, Born November 5th, 1964 and tragically killed in accident September 12, 1977 and Mark Emerson, Born June 5th, 1959 and tragically died in backhoe accident September 13, 1979.  Courtright—Emerson Ballpark is named in their honor.   The memories of the two young men who died too soon can live on every time somebody visits White Pines and plays on the field built for their remembrance.  The field is a legacy left for the community they love. Below is a heartfelt message from Ralph Emerson, the brother of Mark Emerson, as well as a few photos and video from a men’s softball game earlier this summer.

My Brother was my closest friend and died at age 20 but amidst the pain of losing him when
His backhoe flipped over, a plan was developed to build a softball field in remembrance
of Mark and Mike. I was at the first excavation meeting on site with Ray Shires
and my Dad, who donated their equipment and time to do the Excavating for the field.
When you complain about the short fields or configuration, it came from that first day
And we knew nothing about building a softball field,, when wood bats were still used
Regularly but we kept adding length to field because homeruns were easy, so the fence
Got taller as bats became aluminum, titanium and composite. Certainly since 1981 at the
First game to now, much has changed but I love playing softball and especially at this
Memorial field.

I suppose it is fitting that a softball field was chosen to remember these friends to all
Because my Mom started the first Little League team in Arnold and with Ray Shires
Was my coach and my Brothers coach. My Mom wanted something for her boys to do
In Arnold and from hers and others commitment to Arnold and the youth, there are now
Many activities for youth and adults to do but it started from a couple people and a

The community donated money and time to do this project and to maintain it for all these
Many years, which is a bittersweet feeling for me as I have played on this field since it was built
40 years ago. As I still play all these years later, it is with a deep sense of sadness and remembrance
of how we got this field and that the lives of Mike and Mark will forever be etched in the minds
of every person using this field.

Play and enjoy Courtright-Emerson Field
But never forget the sacrifice
That was made so you can
Enjoy it.
Ralph Emerson

One Response to "The Men Behind Courtright—Emerson Ballpark on its 40 Year Anniversary ~ By Ralph Emerson"

  1. Richard Weinkle   July 29, 2021 10:50 am - at 10:50 am

    Here’s the way it started.

    In 1978, I visited the WP field with Tom Floyd and we walked off a possible field. He diagramed it on a map. I took the map to CCWD and they said they’d be open to having a ballfield. It was the same meeting that they gave the Lions an in perpetuity lease on the old AFPI office.

    I worked with Patty Shires on getting a grant. She aced the application and we formed a committee to build the park. Arnold Rotary helped put up the fence and build the grandstand.

    Within a short period of time, it was dedicated as Courtwright-Emerson field as a tribute to those young men and their families.

    Tom Owens became the de-facto field manager for years. I played for the Shires Raiders in the way way back.