In their blue-on-white, Penn Charter varsity players stood along the first base line during the ceremony to open Palaia Field. (Photo by Michael Branscom)

The Penn Charter community turned out on April 6 to celebrate a milestone for the school: completion of the first of three projects in a campus transformation.

PC’s Ralph F. Palaia Field and baseball facility officially opened on a picture-perfect spring day, and in front of a delighted crowd of students, parents, teachers, coaches, alumni, former parents, grandparents and neighbors.

“I welcome you to our field of dreams,” Head of School Darryl Ford said from the pitcher’s mound, welcoming the group.

Ford thanked the donors to the PC’s “How Far?” capital campaign, and explained that the field is the “enabling project” in a campus transformation that will make it possible for the school to achieve everything it needs to remain and thrive in East Falls for decades to come.

The baseball facility is the first of three major construction projects. Next up is an Athletics and Wellness Center on the site of the old baseball field, followed by construction of a state-of-the-art lower school on the site now occupied by Dooney Field House.

“All of this is in support of Penn Charter’s Strategic Vision and in support of our daily efforts to educate students to live lives that make a difference,” Ford said.

Seated in the infield were many special guests, including former coaches Allan Brown, Hon. 1689, Rick Mellor, OPC ’69, and Carolyn and Rich Palaia, the widow and the son of Ralph F. Palaia, for whom the field is named after. Brown coached for 11 years, with five Inter-Ac championships and a winning percentage of 62%. Mellor, who played for Brown, coached for 33 years and retired from PC baseball with the most wins in league history. Ralph Palaia coached for 17 years and won 14 Inter-Ac championships, including 11 straight from 1954-65.

“We are thrilled to honor these legendary coaches,” Ford said. “In positive ways, they shaped their students, many of whom are here today.”