HUNTERSVILLE – Looking out over the baseball field on his family’s land off Gilead Road, David Beard is grateful for his life.
Laid off from his job several years ago, Beard runs his own consulting business, helping employers find the right employees for available jobs. He also works the farm, where he has grass-fed cattle on 100 acres that’s been in his family for eight generations. His son-in-law, Chad West, makes cabinets and lives on the Beard land. West started coaching baseball when his son, Brice, was 7, but it was tough finding a place to play.
“There’s so much growth, you can’t find fields,” Beard said.
So the family put up a practice field on their land with a small backstop. After a year or two, the boys outgrew it. West suggested they could build a bigger field on part of what was a pasture. Beard was happy to say yes, and in July of 2016, they got to work.
They were able to get a hand in grading the land down to make it a suitable surface for a field. A construction company working on a sewer line nearby was able to level and position the field, and working with Duke Energy, they made sure they could light the field eventually. They also used netting from a batting cage and built a third-base dugout. This summer, they’re looking to build the first base dugout. Practice formally started in 2017.
“Now, Chad’s team practices two nights a week, and he coaches his daughter’s softball team every week,” Beard said.
Ultimately, he said the idea was simple.
“We needed a field, so we decided to build a field,” Beard said.
Beard recently reached out on social media to ask if anyone had any leftover Bermuda grass seed that he could use to really shape up the outfield.
“Bermuda grass is about $250 a bag,” he said.
The response was overwhelming with people commenting and asking how they could support, or even rent the field.
“Someone even left a comment saying they didn’t have ‘green grass’ but they had ‘green cash’ and wanted to donate,” Beard said.
Right now, the field is pretty much for friends and family only, but they’re researching how they could rent it out or become an official nonprofit.
“That’s a big commitment,” Beard said.
For now, they’re focusing on building it up, piece by piece.
The seats outside the field were stadium seats at Appalachian State, Beard’s alma mater.
“We had them retrofitted and put bases on them,” Beard said.
West’s tournament team is called the Bravos, and the moniker is stenciled on one of the chairs so far, with plans to add it to the rest.
For now, Beard looks forward to joining his family and friends and watching kids pitch and hit.
“Most every afternoon, at the end of the day during the summer, we come out here and watch the kids play,” he said.
The effort to maintain the field comes from an idea that he holds so close, it’s on his mousepad in his office.
“100 years from now it won’t matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
People who have Bermuda grass or want to know more can email Beard at email@example.com.
For parents who might want their kids to join the Bravos, they’re looking for 10-11-year-olds who want to play baseball at “a little higher level than rec,” West said. “We are looking for someone who we would also hang out with outside of baseball. We’re pretty much a big family from the start of baseball to the end,” he added.
West can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.