Lighting still an issue, concern at Harry & David Field

After several weeks spent waiting to turn the lights back on at Harry & David Field, the green light on Thursday turned into more of a caution yellow for baseball officials, players and fans.

Medford Youth Baseball Society President Gary Miller had hoped Thursday would be a celebration of the city and community's ability to work together, but all he got was one more headache.

"It wasn't how we hoped it would be," Miller said of the new field light setup at the 3-year-old ballpark.

When the sky drew dark and the lights were turned on Thursday, the setting didn't get much better — practically becoming a safety hazard with the middle third of the field barely touched by the lights.

"(Work on the lights) was done the day we turned them on and we didn't know until that night what we had," said Miller on Friday. "Obviously we were disappointed, but we'll get it fixed."

Thursday night's game between the Medford Mustangs and Las Vegas Lions was in danger of being called out of concern for player safety, and Friday's late game in the Best of the West Wood Bat Challenge was bumped up by 15 minutes in hopes of getting players off the field as early as possible.

The next night game at H&D, a scheduled doubleheader for the Mustangs against Canby on Tuesday, is in the process of having its start time bumped up as well to give the city time to fix the problem.

"The lights have to be re-aimed," said Miller of the perceived solution. "We kept the original aiming schematic and I think that's the problem. I think the difference is, with the shields on them, it makes a more directional light. The issue is the light not spreading out like it should."

At least in left-center field, the bank of lights are seemingly pointing straight down at this point.

Miller said the MYBS is already in negotiations with Pacific Power, which spent three days attaching the reflector shields under given schematics, to come back out and re-aim the lights. Pacific Power won't be able to do so, however, until receiving instructions from the manufacturer on how to design a new aiming plan.

Once everyone is on the same page, Miller said it will probably take another three nights or so for Pacific Power crews to finish the project.

"They've been super cooperative and know the urgency with the issue we have, so hopefully we can get that worked out," he added.

Each light has to be individually aimed, going off the coverage plan of 35 feet down and 25 feet in toward the field. Miller said the way to do that is to place a frisbee down while somebody hovering overhead looks through a scope and adjusts the light until the frisbee comes into the specs.

"It's pretty involved," Miller said of the process. "But I think once the lights are re-aimed we'll be fine. It's the same bulbs so, hopefully, it'll be like it was."

Changes to the lighting system became necessary after residents of the Rogue Valley Manor complained that the lights at Harry & David Field were too bright. To accommodate, the City of Medford agreed to attach hoods with reflectors over the existing field lights — as came already equipped at the U.S. Cellular Community Sports Park.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been a simple process in the meantime. The lighting manufacturer shipped 142 standard 3-foot reflector attachments — the only problem being that the outfield lights formerly at Miles Field required 24 4-foot reflectors and four 5-foot reflectors in that bunch.

After the situation was handled and the correct reflector heads were delivered, Pacific Power crews worked diligently to get them attached in time for the Best of the West Wood Bat Challenge.

Unfortunately, though, that didn't leave any time for a test prior to Thursday night's game or an opportunity to greatly alter Friday's schedule.

"It's got to get a lot better than this," Mustangs manager Sandee Kensinger said after Thursday's game. "But Gary said he's working on it, so we'll see."

Of chief concern for Mustang officials is the fact that Medford was recently chosen to host the American Legion AAA Northwest Regionals in 2009, and the current light setup — if not improved — could put that ability in jeopardy.

"There's no way they would let us host with the lights like this," said Mustangs general manager Don Schneider. "No way."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail

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