The boards in the stands sag as badly as those in the fence that rings the baseball field.
Windows are broken, and the paint is faded on an unstable press box. And the dugouts, bathrooms and other buildings haven't had a coat of paint or new shingles in years.
Eagles Field in Bluffton is not the community gem it once was. But a motivated group of neighbors and church volunteers says it can restore the field in a matter of days, readying it for baseball games, Easter egg hunts, back-to-school events and other family-friendly gatherings.
"It's a big project, but we're going to get a lot of it done in five days," said Sharon Brown, chairwoman of the Bluffton Area Community Association, one of a handful of groups involved in revamping the field at the Sam Bennett Sports Complex on Buck Island Road.
Never miss a local story.
Restoring the field, home of the Bluffton Eagles and the B-Town Hawks baseball teams, which compete in the S.C. Lowcountry Baseball League, is personal for Brown.
She lives just a few houses down from the field that's used by the two semi-profession teams. It's also host to pickup baseball games, the community's annual Easter egg hunt and a back-to-school event where students get free backpacks filled with school supplies.
The 14-acre site is named for Brown's grandfather Sam "Bosie" Bennett Jr., but the sign in front of the field bearing his name is leaning.
Bennett was a beloved community activist before his death in 2010. He also was a longtime coach and manager of the Bluffton Eagles, which formed in the 1960s and called the field home.Bennett began playing the game in the 1930s as a teenager. He lived in Rose Hill Plantation and played with family, friends and coworkers. They sought retreat on nearby baseball diamonds during the weekends, playing a game they loved and catching up with friends and neighbors.
The field changed hands several times through the years but was deeded in 2001 to a local organization, the Bluffton Eagles Action Committee, with restrictions to ensure it would always be there for Eagles baseball and the community -- a move that likely saved it from development because of its proximity to the Bluffton Parkway.
"We always had the vision to fix (the site) up but didn't have the funds," said Fred Hamilton, chairman of the Bluffton Eagles Action Committee and a former Eagles player, coach and manager. "But with these donations and generous volunteers, it looks like it finally is going to come to fruition."
Hamilton and Brown give credit to the LowCountry Community Church in Bluffton for helping organize the effort and finding the volunteers and money to do the work.
The church's building team was working on a nearby house recently, part of an ongoing ministry that refurbishes the homes of the needy.
"You know how you drive by something and don't' see it?" said Pastor Joe Friesen, who oversees missions. "As we drove by again and again, we realized (the field) had a lot of issues."
The church has lined up volunteers, while local businesses are donating supplies. But more tax-deductible monetary donations and building materials are needed.
"We're always looking for ways to partner with the community and help," Friesen said.