Spencer Durham’s Rural Pioneer Backyard Baseball League Is A Real Life Field Of Dreams

A FIELD OF DREAMS … Baseball in its purest form, fun and without organizational entanglements, is being played every summer in a quiet corner of rural Williams County. (PHOTO BY TIMOTHY KAYS)

By Timothy Kays

Back in the schooldays of yore, there was always that cool kid that had something special…something nobody else had. Maybe it was a brand new bike, or something along that line. Spencer Durham of rural Pioneer was one of those cool kids. He had an entire baseball field.

Yes, you read that correctly. Spencer, a member of the Montpelier Class of 2013, has a straight out of ‘Field of Dreams’ baseball field on County Road 10.50. Every year, he has his friends come up for a short season of what he refers to as ‘Backyard Baseball,’ something as All-American as a hot dog, and almost like a living Norman Rockwell painting.

“To be honest,” he said, “…it’s hard to pinpoint how it came to fruition. I think I was in seventh or eighth grade, and that’s about the time I really, really got into baseball. It might have been even sixth grade when we first had the conversation between me and my dad. It wasn’t a serious thing; it was kind of a joking, ‘Hey, what we should do is baseball…we should build a baseball field.’ For some background, my dad’s a farmer.”

“We own land, and we own the land around our house out here in the middle of nowhere Pioneer, Ohio. It just started as ‘Hey, it would be kinda cool if we built a baseball field.’ It’s just one of those things that floated by him, and it kind of stuck. It stayed in the idea phase; we were thinking about it for a couple of years, and it got to the point where I wasn’t sure if we’d ever even do it.”

“We actually moved the location of the field about three times. The first time, home plate was going to be in front of our house. And then it was going to be behind the house out by the road. And we eventually settled on a plate being behind the house up near the house. I think I was going to be a freshman in high school. That summer is when I think we finished it.”

“I think this is our fourth year doing it,” Spencer added. “It started as just kind of a tournament a few years ago. Once I got my friends to get out here and see the baseball field that I have, they got interested. Four years ago, we threw together a tournament real quick. I got a group of people to come out. For the last three years, we’ve done it.”

“This year, we’ve had to change things up. I’ve had a lot of people drop out of the tournament this year; just people not available. What we’re doing this weekend is anyone who’s coming, we’re going to draft a couple teams. We’re going to do some sort of seven game series over this weekend, and call it a season. At one point, I thought we were going to have maybe three or four teams for this summer, and then I had a group drop out literally three days ago. We’re just going to try to just do teams of whoever is still available and who can come out today. This weekend, we’re just going to play some games.”

“What’s really cool about this,” Spencer continued, “…the backyard baseball that we play, is that by we didn’t do this in high school. I can count on one hand the number of times I had friends come up in high school; we didn’t all drive, and not everyone wants to make the trek out here because it is kind of in the middle of nowhere.”

“So us playing, it all started after most of us have graduated high school. It’s been really cool to have a group of friends that still want to do kind of almost the sandlot baseball, because I couldn’t find that in high school. And for four years of high school, it was just pretty much just me and my dad out here hitting and rolling and taking ground balls.”

“It’s been an absolute blessing to get a group of friends that are willing to come out for a few weekends in June and July, and play some backyard baseball. Everyone that comes has fun. It’s a good time. It’s really cool to see new people show up and see the look on their face. When it sets in, it’s like, ‘Holy…this person has an actual baseball field.’ Because until you see it, it’s kind of hard to imagine.”

Timothy can be reached at tim@thevillagereporter.com

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