By Kathryn Rice
Maryville has a new hidden gem which provides youth baseball a private, little-league-sized field located off of South Mulberry in the southern part of Maryville.
The field is owned by Ben and Tiffany Scott and Ed and Diane Higdon. The project started when the Maryville Knights, consisting of three youth baseball teams and a part of the State Line League, was having trouble booking practice and game fields.
State Line League consists of the Knights, Mavericks and Shockers. Each has three teams consisting of the half-pints, ages seven-to-nine; pints, ages 10-to-12; and cubs, ages 13-to-15. It is open to both boys and girls.
Beginnings of the field
Three years ago, Ben Scott and Randy Buck, two of the Knights coaches discussed the possibility of building a practice field with a backstop. As a location, Scott thought of the ground the Scott and Higdon family had owned for 10-to-15 years. So the project began as a practice field. It grew from there.
The winter of 2018-19, Burlington Jct. and the West Nodaway school district rebuilt the baseball field at the city park. The State Line League teams purchased the old fence and dugouts. The team members and parents dismantled and moved it to the new location.
Dennis Porter of Porter Trash donated the backstop chainlink and some poles to help. Infield dirt was purchased and hauled by Benny Wynn. Kylie Hoyt helped with leveling and field preparation. With the fence installed, it was now possible to have games and tournaments at the facility. Softball games can be played on the field also.
The first season was played this summer and included an end-of-season tournament.
There is still work to be done on the facility, needing monies for expenses and upkeep. Scott has reached out to businesses for funds with recognition of their donations with banners on the outfield fence. This is helping with the in-field upkeep expenses.
With games starting at 5:30 pm and ending at 10:30 pm, lights are needed. Scott has set up a gun raffle with tickets almost sold out for this year. He is planning a raffle each year.
Concessions are being sold from Scott’s building next to the field. There are also bathrooms. He is hoping to have a dedicated concession building with bathrooms built in the future.
“It’s neat to see all the smiling faces,” Scott said. “This gives kids a positive place to come and enjoy a sport we love. We have 36 kids in the three Knights teams. We’d love to have more but don’t have room.
“We started practicing in January, all for a seven-week season. I love working with the kids.”
The field hosted it’s first end-of-season tournament in July. Normally, there are 13 teams in each age bracket but because of COVID-19, there were eight teams.
Scott gave a rundown of Knights standings. The half-pints, improved this year but didn’t go far in the tournament. The pints were playing together for the second year. Scott said they really stepped up and took second place. The cubs are seeing eight members graduate from the team, including Scott’s son. This was a highlight for him as his son was able to play on the field it’s first year.
“We had kids with good attitudes, who have improved each year,” Scott said. “We had a good, solid team that went undefeated and won the tournament.”
Scott emphasized that this is not an adult field, but is sized with youngsters in mind. The left and right field fences are 215 feet. Centerfield is 256 feet. Scott believes it’s great for a younger child to hit a home run. There is also a closer backstop so the players don’t have to chase the ball. Scott believes a double should be a double and a triple should be a triple.
The field saw many firsts this year, the first double hit, two out-of-the-park home runs and first grand slam.
“My family has worked hard and been blessed,” Scott said. “This is our way of giving back to the community. A lot of the kids wouldn’t be able to play if we didn’t have these teams.”
Scott is looking forward to his nephews playing on the field. He is looking to install bleachers and an outdoor batting cage in the future.
More financial assistance is being sought. If businesses want to put a banner on the fence or individuals want to make a donation, contact Scott at 660.541.3049. Permission is needed to use the private field and may be gained by contacting Scott.