No broken windows from these baseballs
GRAND JUNCTION – Alex Schaneman watched the pitch come zipping toward him. The 8-year-old gritted his teeth and took a big swing, and missed.He didn’t have time to think about it, because two seconds later, another pitch was headed in his direction like a missile. This time, Schaneman timed his swing perfectly and smiled when he sent the ball screaming into the outfield.He had a little bit of heaven in his own back yard – thanks to his dad, Chad.Three years ago, Chad Schaneman built a baseball field on his 5 acres of land at 2991 B 3/4 Road on Orchard Mesa. The field took up half of his property. And just about every day, his sons’ baseball team or Schaneman’s softball club practices on the dusty field.The story of Chad Schaneman’s baseball field follows the lines of the 1989 movie, “A Field of Dreams,” in which Kevin Costner builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield after hearing otherworldly voices. But there’s nothing make-believe about Chad’s field, and the voice he heard was his own. “I wanted to build it for my sons,” Chad Schaneman said.Raising kids, not crops
Chad Schaneman and his wife, Tanya, have three children, including two boys who are now playing Little League baseball, who they’re out there just about every day.”I love having it out there,” Alex Schaneman said. “We can play any time we want. We don’t have to be all bored all the time.”And when they’re not out there, Chad’s slow-pitch softball team, Key Human Resources, is taking batting practices (150 swings), fielding grounders or shagging fly balls.When Chad purchased the property, five acres surrounded by alfalfa and corn fields, he knew immediately what he was going to do with the land behind his house.”I’m not a farmer,” said Chad, who owns Key Human Resources, a business that processes payrolls for several companies in the area. “I didn’t buy this to farm or ranch.”Some saw the property as rich in potential to grow crops. There was a chicken coop in the back and plenty of places for other pens. But Chad saw the property as a place where his sons can grow as ball players.The area was smothered by alfalfa and weeds – lots of weeds. So he mowed everything down with a lawnmower. Then he borrowed a tractor and plowed the area two or three times.Chad then purchased his own tractor and harrowed the land to level the field. He purchased a box scraper to flatten the dirt and turned the chicken coop into the equipment shed.
When the field was ready, he purchased bases, a pitching rubber and a pitching machine – one that fired baseballs and lobbed softballs. He also bought the batting cage. And together, with his teammates, they built a pitcher’s shield.Practice anytimeChad spends about six hours a week maintaining the field, but he doesn’t know exactly how much money he has spent. “It’s probably more than what my wife would’ve wanted,” he said with a chuckle.But the bottom line is, he built if for his sons.”I wanted them to have a place to play where they didn’t have to worry about breaking any windows,” Chad said. “When I was young, we played on a little field, but we always seemed to break somebody’s window.”That won’t be a problem. The field is huge, larger than some professional ball fields. The home run fence is 315 feet down the left field line and 265 down the right field line. As for center field, well, you’d have to be Jose Canseco, Mickey Mantle and Barry Bonds to hit it out in center field. “That’s a long, long way out there,” Schaneman said.
Probably about 450 feet, he guessed.The bases are regulation and 90 feet apart. The pitching rubber is 60 feet, six inches feet from home plate. The backstop is made of heavy net in the shape of a batting cage. It’s actually a quarter batting cage with the opening facing the field.Behind the batting cage is an equipment shed. And next to it is a large concrete picnic table. The field, itself, is level and rock-free. There’s no grass – yet – in the infield and outfield. But it’s coming, Chad Schaneman said.”When he told me he was going to build a baseball field, I thought he was full of it,” said neighbor Monty Nostrand. “I thought he was going to be a farmer.”Now I think it’s awesome. I come over and take batting practice whenever I want,” said Nostrand, who also is a member of Chad’s softball club. “I have a 3-year-old son, so I hope this field sticks around long enough for him to use it.”It will, Chad said. He plans to plant grass, install a permanent backstop and paint the equipment shed.”It’s going to be here,” he promised.