Named after youth education advocate and founding of Calvary Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Leo S. Rounds, Rounds Park has provided one of the most complete community recreational experiences in Greenville for more 55 years.
No other inner-city park has all its amenities contained on a single parcel of land like Rounds Park. The wooded areas to the north and west are perfect for nature walks. And, once upon a time, when the ditch banks on Horseshoe Bayou were clear, the park was one of the best fishing spots in the area.
Northland Village Apartments and family housings to the south and east make up the community known as Carver Circle. Rounds Parks is the centerpiece with outdoor basketball courts that were once tennis courts. There is also a whole court indoor gym where ping pong, shuffleboard, and weight lifting once took place.
Just to the left of the gym is the spot where a swimming pool has been filled with dirt and concrete. Between the site where the pool once was, there is a concrete slab that was once a half-court basketball site with a hoop lower than regulation where those with less than average leaping ability could be mistaken for slam dunk champions.
One of the newest attractions gracing Rounds Park is a double-sided batting cage made on black mesh netting.
All of the park’s amenities still must take a backseat to the splendor of baseball and softball. Rounds Parks was the epicenter of some of the most skillful young little league games. Talented adult slow pitch softball also took place in 70s, 80s and 90s.
“The best part about playing was attempting to play like professional players,” said Napoleon Stephney, a Memphis area chemist and former Greenville resident. “I wore Darryl Strawberry’s number and just having fun with your friends. I also met a lot of people from outside Carver Circle playing little league baseball.”
Once adult slow pitch softball ceased, the field named after late Greenville Park Commissioner Horace Thomas was turned into an 11-to-12-year-old fast pitch league.
For about a decade, youngsters could play four consecutive summers of baseball at the same site without having to travel to another area of town. This was reminiscent of the way baseball teams were built for league play throughout the history of Rounds Park.
Many of the players enjoyed the luxury of being on neighborhood teams with their friends. When game time came, they would simply walk from their homes to the park. The fields and facilities are still in good condition and do not get much use from the community these days.
“I think now would be a great time to invest in the park commission,” Stephney said. “This gives our kids, especially young men something else to consume their time. If the city invests money to fix the parks back up, I’m sure you can find kids and coaches.”