For eight years I coached the world-famous Nuts in the Catholic Youth Baseball League (team cheer: Go-o-o-o-o-o Nuts!) on a field that would have to be improved to resemble a nuclear missile test site.
It featured buckled earth, weeds for infield grass, a mud hole for a pitcher's mound, a gap in the backstop the Ohio State band could have marched through, no home run fence and outfield grass so high we lost Eric in it once for three innings.
But then I heard about the Briggs & Stratton Diamonds in the Rough contest, in which kids ages 7 through 12 were asked to write a 150-word essay on why his or her ball field was the crappiest in America and send pictures to prove it. The winner would get $20,000 to fix it up. After reading many of the essays and seeing the pictures, I can tell you that the fields these kids play on made ours look like Dodger Stadium.
Our dads have to wet-vac the field to try and make it playable. One time a coach found a crawfish where first base was supposed to be.
--SCOTT SEMLER, 7, ATLANTA
There are thousands of ants on the field. When I sit down to do stretching exercises, they crawl up my pants.
--BLAKE RICHARDS, 9, HOUSTON
There is no place for fans to sit. I invite my grandmother to watch me. The last time I played, she left to buy a folding chair and missed my home run.
--BERTRAM MARKS II, 12, DETROIT
My dad said if you fix our fields, the grounders won't bounce up and hit me in the face.