Group works to bring youth league baseball back to Hardinsburg

Lana Hamilton

Build it and they will come. That is what Shawn and Belinda Jecker are hoping, anyway.

The good news for them is, it is already built, but it needs a lot of work. It is the ball field in Hardinsburg.

Belinda has lived in the area for 16 years and has never known the ball field to be used. “I didn’t know anything about it,” Belinda said. But six months ago, the couple became aware of it after joining the Hardinsburg Facebook page. The ballpark was mentioned a lot. Shawn said,  “One day I looked at her and said, ‘What about the ball field?’”

The couple have three children, Autumn, 12; Kayden, 6 and Hunter, 4 who would love to play ball. Autumn has played at Campbellsburg, but that is quite a haul from Hardinsburg three or four nights a week. Shawn also said playing ball saved him, as a kid growing up in Louisville, so he thought maybe by resurrecting the local ball field, other kids could be helped, as well.

The couple went before the Hardinsburg Town Board, who offered them nothing but encouragement. In fact, that’s all they could give, as there is no money in their budget to help.

Belinda said the couple doesn’t have a lot of extra money themselves to throw into the field, but they have plenty of willingness and eagerness to work at improvements. The couple has sought out donations and some help has come without them asking.

The infield was grass, having been unkept for all these years, until a gentleman, Steve Jackey, disked it up for them. Turns out the field was originally named after his father, the William “Bill” Jackey Memorial Field. When Steve heard that there was interest in the ball field, he jumped right in to do what he could. He shared with the Jeckers that his dad always wanted to be able to look at the field, and in fact, purchased his burial plot in the cemetery behind the field.

The Jeckers also found a memorial sign in the concession stand with Mr. Nichols’ name on it. He was apparently a teacher and coach from the area who poured his heart into the ball field, along with Mr. Jackey.

Shawn works swing shift in Louisville and is a volunteer fireman with Posey Township, but when he is not doing those things he and the entire family are working on the ballpark. As they work, they are often joined by neighborhood kids. “One kid turns into three and three into five,” Belinda said. One time a young man came to the field when the lights were on and told the Jeckers that he had never seen lights on the field.

There are three main line items that need to be addressed. They include new fencing, bathroom overhaul and scoreboard with intercom. They were lucky in that the concession stand just needed to be cleaned out, which they have done. A refrigerator, microwave and a sink have been donated for the concession stand. They have also had blue trash barrels donated and a picnic table.

The bleachers are in the process of being pressure washed and then will receive a new coat of paint. Because there is only one set of bleachers half will be painted blue and the other half red to match the dugouts. “That way there will be a home and an away side,” Belinda said.

The Fredericksburg Lions Club has jumped on board to support the field. “Marvin Jenks from the Fredericksburg Lions Club even brought items for the yard sale,” Belinda said.

They are trying to approach and hopefully use as many Washington County businesses as possible. Although hestitant at first, Shawn, with encouragement from his friends, set up a GoFundMe page for the ball field. So far it has raised $500. In addition, there is a bank account set up at First Harrison Bank, under the name of Hardinsburg Little League Association, that people can donate to.

“If you don’t have money to donate, manpower is always welcome,” Shawn said.

The first in-person fundraiser, a yard sale and bake sale, will be Saturday, Oct. 17, at the ball field (see story, this page), to put the Hardinsburg Little League Park back in playing condition. In addition to the three larger items, money from the fundraiser will also be used to purchase sand and brick dust for the field, tools to maintain the field, and an assortment of items for the concession area.

“We look forward to meeting the community and anyone that wants to come out to support the ball field,” Belinda said.


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