ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — There’s a euphemism the St. Petersburg High School baseball team uses to describe the old Huggins-Stengel field they play and practice on.

“Ah, you know,” said Assistant Coach Ian Hislop. “The field wasn’t the best.”

“It wasn’t the best,” said Fletcher Hislop.

That’s putting it nicely. The batting cages were a mess, the grass was dying at the edges, and the infield was covered in stones.

“I would take ground balls to the face, to the leg,” said Ian Hislop. “I took a couple to the cup every now and then.”

But this isn’t your average Little League field — it has history. Baseball legends like Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio played here. Even Marilyn Monroe caught a couple of games.

Picture of Babe Ruth signing a baseball in the Huggins-Stengel Complex.

“You get to stand in the same batter’s box that Babe Ruth stood in,” Ian Hislop gushed. “Or Lou Gehrig stood in, or Cal Ripken Jr. stood in.”

They all played and practiced here for MLB spring training decades ago. So did Ian Hislop.

“It’s something that’s super, super hard to take in,” Ian Hislop explained. “But once you really understand it, it’s almost magical.”

But after Hurricane Ian demolished the Rays’ spring training facility in Port Charlotte, they needed a place to practice for their games at the Wide World of Sports in Orlando.

“I thought it was a joke and someone was pranking me,” said Fletcher Hislop. “‘Fletch, the Rays are coming in and redoing the whole new infield.’ I was like, ‘You got to be kidding me.'”

The prodigal son decided to come home. And with the team came a major facility upgrade for free. New grass, dirt, pitching mound, bullpens, batter’s boxes, bases and batting cage. It was the ultimate home run.

“We went from having one of the worst infields in probably the state of Florida for high school,” Ian Hislop said. “To having the nicest infield in the state of Florida.”

Now, there’s no need for euphemisms from players like senior shortstop Fletcher Hislop.

“It was unbelievable,” Fletcher Hislop said. “I had to pinch myself a couple times, looking at this field. Because it’s just night and day from before.”

Hislop’s got high hopes for his Green Devils — and a brand new field doesn’t hurt.

“It’s a high-level field,” Hislop said. “It almost makes you want to play at that high level.”

The Green Devils’ season starts in less than two weeks, but they have an intrasquad scrimmage and potluck on Saturday. Spring training practice for the Rays starts just as soon.