Friday, January 6, 2012

Build It and They Will Come

Hi everyone, it's been awhile since I posted and when I did the video I shot for the post was listed as private hence not many folks got a chance to view it. I corrected that today so if your were denied access it is now available in the public domain. That post was in September so I've got some catching up to do. I am in Texas now at my wife's family homestead in Smithville, Texas and have been since the first week of November with the weather being summer-like ninety per cent of the time. The property sits on or around about forty acres which is mainly used for growing hay with the house in the middle of it all and aside from a few property fences and trees it's a pretty open area. Last year while I prepared for Cleveland Indians Fantasy Camp here in Smithville the thought occurred to me that I could build a baseball field on this land somewhere although at the time I never got around to it. Well guess what? I finally got around to it. A little history is in order here before I continue. Growing up in a small college town southwest of Cleveland, Ohio our home was across the street from a vacant field which the owner allowed us the play on anytime we wanted. Now this was the fifties so youngsters had to use their imagination to find ways of entertaining themselves.(Sorry guys, no XBox 360's or iPhones) My mother introduced me to baseball by taking my brother and I to a Cleveland Indians game sometime in the mid fifties and that became our main diversion. When I first saw the lush green grass at Municipal Stadium I was awestruck at the intense green and the geometry of the infield, it left an indelible mark on my spirit one I intended to replicate at some point. My first attempt prior to the current one was to build a slightly downsized field in that vacant lot across the street. I hauled dirt from underneath our front porch to build a pitchers mound and carved out base paths and an infield with a shovel. This became the venue where we would spend countless hours playing wiffle ball with two or three on a team and modified rules to make up for our lack of personal. This pastime endured well into our college years until the land was finally sold and a house was moved in to occupy the site of our beloved ballpark. It's amazing what you can do with an open field, a riding lawn mower, a long measuring tape, a source of dirt, a shovel, a rake and a wheelbarrow plus a good dose of manual labor. Since I first carved it out of the vacant hay field at the end of last week I've tinkering and refining it a little each day and continues to look more and more like a ball field as it evolves. My daughter Sarah, her husband Matt, and myself christened it last Sunday with a little BP (batting practice) with souvenir baseballs from spring training and a real wooden bat, there's nothing like the sound of cowhide on ash of a Louisville Slugger. Here's a quick look. In 'Field of Dreams' James Earl Jones' monologue captures the essence of the magic that is baseball.