There’s something special about a sports field. I could go Wide World of Sports and talk about the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” types of activities which occur on a sports field but it goes beyond that.
It’s something visceral.
It’s something old and ancient.
It’s about community and people coming together.
The “Friday Night in America” feeling.
There’s something special in the field I played little league baseball on and the fields where we practiced baseball and football. All those other fields where we’d show up on a hot summer morning or a fall/winter Saturday to play pickup games.
I will always be tied to those fields as much as I am tied to the house I was born and grew up in. They are as much a part of me as my school or my church.
Now, I am old.
I live in an entirely different place than where I grew up. Worlds away, it often seems.
But there are still sports fields.
And they still grab ahold of me.
They grab me and anchor me to the essence of what my adopted hometown means.
A football stadium that oozes the history of this town through the memories of sons, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers who played there. A stadium built of limestone quarried on a farm just outside town and hauled stone by stone to be placed by local workers during the depression.
A baseball field with more frustrating problems than solutions. But a field getting a little bit better every day thanks to the generous and caring individuals and businesses in town. A field of remembrance as well as a field to play ball on.
Those are the two places in Clay Center, Kansas that pull me into their strong orbit. Places I’ve grown to care deeply about. Places to appreciate every single thing done to preserve and improve upon them. From the city and the baseball field renovation project to the school district’s improvement projects on Otto Unruh Stadium (especially the masonry restoration done by Jan Kissinger’s company and crew), I, for one, am grateful.
That’s what sports fields do.
That’s why they are special places.