In the the seat of Jackson County, Florida, the small town of Marianna with 6,200 residents eagerly await the coming of each spring. The “City of Southern Charm” is not waiting for the tourists to come and see their historic main street–no, they come all year round. No, they are excited because the baseball season will be here. The biggest game in town happens just off the I-90 at Chipola College, the junior college that serves this area. There at the Chipola Stadium, the crack of the bat will announce a new season and the fans will cheer the scoreboard as their Indians play at the highest levels.
The Indians are coming off a record 2006-2007 season where they won it all. For the first time ever Chipola won the National Junior College Athletic Association’s championship. It was the first in the school’s history and the first title for a Florida school since 1988. The World Series title capped a 41-18 season played in the difficult Panhandle Conference. Pitcher Drew Parker drew MVP honors for the tournament with 2 wins and 2 saves. The Indians relied on great pitching throughout the season with three of the starting rotation pitching with a low ERA around 3. The 2008 team fell short of the World Series title but did manage to capture both the Panhandle Conference title and the Florida Community College Athletic Association statewide title. It is a great honour for Electro-Mech to have our scoreboards shine in the stadium of Chipola Indians.
Fans have been lucky enough to watch many Indians who have gone on to play Major League Baseball. Most recently the Indians and their fans were treated watch Russell Martin, who joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006 as their catcher. In the Major Leagues he has already gone to the All Star game twice and has earned a Golden Glove Award. Toronto Blue Jay’s third baseman Jose Bautista also played here at Chipola Stadium before heading into the Majors. Another former Indian, slugger and 3rd baseman Matt Gamel was brought up to the Major Leagues by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008. Both Martin and Bautista credit coach Jeff Johnson as their inspiration and the reason they made it to this level. Johnson, who has coached at Chipola College for 14 years, has built the team and the players into something special.
Chipola Stadium underwent a six year refurbishment that ended just before the 2008 season. The bleachers went from tin benches to a grandstand with individual seats and a roof with a press box. The new 1250 LED Baseball Scoreboard features 18-inch LED digits for easy fan viewing from all angles. A third-base dugout features an attached building with windows that look out onto the field. Inside, the staff offices, a new locker room and workout facility reside. There is also a brand new building so the Indians can practice pitching and batting indoors. The fields and dugouts and were completely redone to give this class team an equally classy venue. Now fans can cheer a great team in a great stadium.