The summer of 1951 saw significant changes. There were 28 teams playing on two diamonds. A concession stand had been built which included restrooms and storage. During each night of play a hat would be passed to collect monies for the maintenance of the facility. Two Saturday night hymn sings were also held to raise additional funds. A total of $550 was collected by those two means that summer. Dave Tuuk was also hired that summer as manager of the CYC to perform duties which included organizing the softball leagues, taking care of the grounds and performing other related tasks.
By 1953 there was also a swing set, slide and four basketball goals in use on the grounds as well as a volleyball area and shuffleboard courts. Board fences in the outfield included 21 advertisers’ logos. There were 30 teams involved in the softball program that summer.
The following summer, 1954, there were 37 teams and the lighted basketball courts were in use every evening.
In 1955 an experimental league for slow pitch was started with a 16-inch ball and no gloves. The game had originated in Chicago, and the CYC was the first place in Grand Rapids where the game was played. During the same year a select group of softball all-stars was chosen to represent the Youth Center and a double header rivalry was started with a group of Christian all-stars from the Illiana area, near Lansing, Illinois. Large crowds turned out to watch softball at its best.
A miniature golf course was built in 1956, creating competition for John Loek’s mini golf course at the old Beltline Drive-In Theatre. The CYC charged 25 cents per round and over $2,000 was generated each summer, enabling the CYC to make other improvements. Sunday night hymn sings were also still held on occasion.
The year 1958 became an important time in the history of the CYC. The diamonds were full every night with three games each, so the board began to think of moving to a new site in order to expand the program. Joe Duthler approached the board with an offer of $100,000 for the property. This proposal made sense, since it meant taking a site which initially had cost $22,500 and selling it for $100,000 only nine years later.
A search for property turned up an excellent possibility when a 60 acre parcel of an 80 acre farm owned by John Marsman became available on the southeast corner of Schaffer and 36th Street. After extensive negotiations an offer was made and accepted for $30,000, or $500 an acre.
At the close of the 1958 season the 28th Street Christian Youth Center was dismantled and the big moving process began. Everything was moved, including fencing, railroad ties, back stops, poles, lights and playground equipment. By mid-June of 1959 three diamonds were put in play and the season began.
In 1960 the name was changed to the “Christian Reformed Recreation Center” to reflect the family atmosphere that was becoming evident.
Since that time the Rec Center has continued to make improvements to the facility. Some milestones include the purchase of another 60 acres, the development of the first nine holes of Fellowship Greens, the construction of the senior’s center and golf house and the development of the last nine holes of the golf course. In 1982 a high of 247 teams were playing softball each week.
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