BAKER, LA (WAFB) - Rusty tin roofs rattle atop empty dugouts. Crab grass has overtaken the pitcher's mound. The outfield is more a thing of nightmares than dreams.
There has not been a baseball game at Baker Little League park off Groom Rd since 2011, but that has not stopped a small team of volunteers from planning big. Four weeks ago, Sgt. Ryan Lowe cut the locks off the dilapidated field. And, with the help of Communications Officer Michelle Lewis, he is marshaling supplies and wrangling other cops from the Fraternal Order of Police to help bring Little League Baseball back to Baker.
"We've come a long way." Lowe said, "We still have a lot to do."
Captain Darryl Rainwater is Lowe's boss at work. On the field, he is his painter. "I played out here in the 70's. Coached my son out here." Rainwater said. "This place is really special. It's got a lot of memories. There's a log of great players that have come through here."
And memories are what they hope to build for the youth in Baker, like the state championship of 1972.
Adult arguments over money and league politics killed Baker Little League five years ago. Before that, the league fielded dozens of teams every year, and proudly paraded them down the main drag at the start of the season. Lowe and Lewis hope to bring sense of community pride back and teach their kids to do things better. "Integrity, ethics, discipline, learning. Everything that a kid needs to grow up to be a successful adult." said Lowe.
There's still a ton of work to do before an anticipated late-April first pitch. The fence needs repair because some of it sags, and there's a tree holding up part of the outfield wall. However, this tiny team sees more than the paint, the carpentry, and plumbing repairs. They see the dreams of a community ready to pitch in. "We've already had an A-C man volunteer time to rework the A-C and heater," said Lewis, "and a Buffalo Electrical rewired all the outfield lights."
Next week, there will be brand new siding to turn this into, dare they think it, a real field of dreams.
You can help the dream come true. Baker Youth Baseball is looking for sponsors, coaches, and more volunteers. You can learn all about it at a meeting this Saturday at 10a.m. in the Baker Civic Club next to the field.