|By Gay Eskew
“Rrr, Rrr, Rrr,” crooned the lawnmower as Soren Delay, an Augusta high schooler, cleared a swath along the overgrown base paths. He was preparing the field for a family 2023 Memorial Day weekend game. Others became involved, including Tim Kampen, who volunteered to turn on the lights for the evening game. The baseball field was in the beginning stages of revival.
On the day of the family game, Augusta residents saw the lights down at the ball field and went to see what was happening. One resident said his heart was pounding at the excitement of seeing another game on the ball field again. A stream of cars visited the ball field in the river bottoms; memories were stirred. Adults remembered the days when they played as kids or remembered their own children experiencing the great American past-time!
The Mel L. Fuhr Memorial Ball Field prominently displays an official scoreboard (it supposedly still works.) The traditional lights still circle the field. The bleachers and the team dugouts have seen better days. Growing stalks of corn currently surround the playing field. The ball field was built in the late 1970s. Youth teams were organized. Games were played. Scores tallied. Stats compiled. Then, with fewer kids in Augusta, the Augusta Athletic Association was officially dissolved around 2020.
Fast-forward to June 18, 2023. Once again, the base paths were mowed. White Frisbees were laid down for 1st, 2nd,and 3rd bases, while home plate remained permanently in the dirt. Having enough players to form two teams, the Owls played the Groundhogs. Kids from around 9 or 10 years to adults played, what a joy! There were families, brothers and sisters, singles – a multi-generational mix. Rules were adapted for the various ages and skill levels. The goal was to have fun playing baseball. All the players that night came from the small town of Augusta, MO! They agreed to continue playing on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to about 9 p.m. at the Mel L. Fuhr Memorial Ball Diamond in Augusta, down the hill in the bottoms.
The pickup game is open to anyone wanting to play ball or watch. Bring your chairs. So, “Take me ‘down’ to the ballgame!”