If there’s anything that can make you jump in the car for a Minnesota road trip, it’s the Fargo Forum’s story today from tiny Fertile, Minn., pop. 842.
There, Ryan Strem has built a baseball field for the local kids to play ball for free.
Strem never played baseball growing up, but his 10-year-old son loves the game. So Strem built a baseball park in the shadow of a corn field.
Stop me if this story sounds familiar.
The story can bring tears to the eyes. A description of perfection on a Tuesday night in Minnesota can do that to a person.
There’s a ceremonial first pitch, an umpire and coaches to keep things organized in the dugout. There’s a signup sheet each week for food, while people bring drinks, cookies and other treats. This Tuesday was “Taco In a Bag Night.”
As for the field, Strem got help from guys who work at the golf course to keep up the sprinkler system, bought an old scoreboard from one school and was given bleachers from the 1950s from another. He grew the corn in the outfield.
When 6 p.m. rolls around, Strem waves all the kids on the field, questioning the ones clinging to their mom’s leg or hiding near the fence if they really don’t want to play. They always end up running on the field.
Strem splits up the kids by age. The kids in third grade and below get to play first. They each get two at bats with no at bat ending until they make contact. Well, not technically, seeing as 2-year-old Kolby Cook decided to take off his helmet and walk away in the middle of his first at bat.
His 4-year-old brother Brody didn’t want to play defense until his dad told him he doesn’t get a hot dog unless he plays the field. That’ll happen in the first portion of the night, as will kids running around the bases still holding the bat, laying down in the outfield grass and playing with the dirt in the infield. The crowd loves every second of it.
After the little kids get two at bats, dinner is served.
A map nearby is filled with pins. People are traveling from great distances, just to play on the field.
“It’s perfect,” Ray Kinsella said, looking at his field in Field of Dreams.
He should see Fertile.