Horseshoe Lake, 2016

Tom Pile Field at the EHS District 7 Sports Complex

October 10, 2017

Last modified: May 11, 2020

Tom Pile Field is a baseball venue in Edwardsville. It is home to the Edwardsville High School Tigers baseball team, 4A Division, Southwestern Conference.  The field is located on the south-west corner of the EHS District 7 Sports Complex at 6161 Center Grove Road in Edwardsville. The EHS District 7 Sports Complex is built on a 50-acre site which also houses Edwardsville High School. The facility is named after Edwardsville Tigers baseball coach Tom Pile, who coached the Edwardsville Tigers baseball team from 1980 to 1998. Pile retired in 1998 after leading the Edwardsville Tigers to a Class AA state championship with a 40-0 record.1 He achieved a record of 579-159 in his EHS coaching tenure, which included another Class AA state championship in 1990, a runner-up finish at the state championship in 1991, and a state-record 64 game winning streak in 1990-1991.2

The 1982 Edwardsville High School Tigers Baseball Team, with Coach Tom Pile standing in the second row, furthest to the right.
From Edwardsville High School

Tom Pile, who elevated Edwardsville baseball to national prominence during his coaching tenure, was a driving force behind the construction of the Edwardsville Sports Complex.3 Originally built in 1987 with little money, the field received a $700,000 makeover in 2008. Ten years after Tom Pile’s retirement as the Edwardsville Tigers baseball coach, the baseball field he helped build erected a sign above the press box displaying his name and christening the field Tom Pile Field. According to Pile, the evolution of the EHS Sports Complex was an integral part of the program’s success.4

In the 1980s, a critical lack of outdoor space at the overcrowded second Edwardsville High School building, built in 1925 at 145 West Street in Edwardsville, prompted a group of citizens to join together for the purpose of establishing a sports complex on Center Grove Road. This 50-acre site would eventually be developed with the help of many donations and much volunteer labor.5 The site was owned by the Edwardsville-Glen CarbonHamelMidway foundation (EGHM foundation). The foundation was established October 1976 by the late John Hunter Jr., a long-time Board of Education member and president of the school board.6 The legal purpose of the Foundation was “to maintain, develop, increase and extend the facilities and services of Edwardsville Community Unit School district #7… and to provide broader educational and service opportunities to its students, staff, faculty and the residents of the geographical area which it serves.”7 The EGHM Foundation had purchased the 50-acre tract of land in the late 1970s, and in 1981 provided the school district with an option to purchase the land. In the 1980s, the foundation also provided funding to assist in the development of the property into the sports complex it is today.

Based on a comprehensive plan, the sports complex on Center Grove Road was built on a piecemeal basis,8 and the complex was first opened for team practice in 1985.9 At the baseball field batting cages, a new drainage system, pitching machines, and other equipment were added by Tom Pile through fundraising games at Busch Stadium in the early 1990s.10 Lights were added to the field in 1992 through the “Light the Field of Dreams” campaign headed by Edwardsville attorney Tad Armstrong.11 In 1996 the new Edwardsville High School was built and completed adjacent to the Sports Complex on Center Grove Road. The new school opened its doors in 1997 giving the high school baseball players easy access to the baseball facilities and field.

Artist’s rendering of the 2008 renovation of Tom Pile field from a fundraising brochure
From Edwardsville High School

The baseball field received a $700,000 makeover in 200812 through the efforts of the EHS Baseball Booster Club, District 7, and the EGHM Foundation.13

Satellite view of Tom Pile field on April 1, 2015
From ESRI World Imagery

Other key contributors to the baseball field’s development have included EHS Baseball Booster President Ron Frey, Tigers baseball coach Tim Funkhouser, District 7 Superintendent Ed Hightower, and District 7 School Board President Jim Speciale.14\

For more, see this Oral History

Endnotes   [ + ]

1. Greg Shashack, “Honoring a Legend,” The Telegraph, May 5, 2008.
2. IHSA Sports Records for Edwardsville High School, Accessed July 20, 2017.
3. “Remembering Two of the Best,” Edwardsville Intelligencer, May 7, 2008.
4. Bill Roseberry, “The Name Game: Pile Honored,” Edwardsville Intelligencer, May 5, 2008.
5. Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7, “History,” accessed July 20, 2017.
6. EGHM Foundation, “Working for the Students of District 7,” accessed July 22, 2017.
7. John Fruit, “What the EGHM Foundation Is, and What It Does,” EGHM Presentation, May 2, 2006, accessed July 21, 2017.
8. Carol Clarkin, “Edwardsville Athletic Complex Unveiled,” The Telegraph, June 3, 1981.
9. Carol Clarkin, “Edwardsville Athletic Complex May Be Ready by October: Ford,” The Telegraph, Sept. 10, 1985.
10. Greg Shashack, “Tigers’ Win Keeps Streak Alive,” The Telegraph, April 22, 1991.
11. “Edwardsville Baseball Auction Sheds Light on Sports Complex,” The Telegraph, Jan 28, 1992.
12. Shashack, “Honoring.”
13. Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7, “Building a Tiger Tradition: Baseball Stadium Improvements,” Accessed July 18, 2017.
14. Bill Roseberry, “The Name Game: Pile Honored,” Edwardsville Intelligencer, May 5, 2008.
Cite this article: Suze Gibson, "Tom Pile Field at the EHS District 7 Sports Complex," Madison Historical: The Online Encyclopedia and Digital Archive for Madison County, Illinois, last modified May 11, 2020, https://madison-historical.siue.edu/encyclopedia/tom-pile-field/.
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