A light rain fell under swirling clouds as I stood next to Dan Clouser, founder of the Big Vision Foundation. We looked across the Charlie Wagner Field, a replica of Fenway Park including its own Green Monster wall.
In this sanctuary, as the wind pushed against us, always blowing at home plate, there is peace. Kids from across the country, some as far away as Canada, will travel to play here in a varied offering of tournaments. They will even set up an inflatable movie screen on summer nights for the showing of family movies, though not without a screening of Field of Dreams to start the season.
Clouser’s efforts have proved the mantra of the novel and film.
What started with a group of friends has blossomed to an organization changing lives in Berks County on multiple levels. On the practical level, they generate needed income from tourism. Local hotels, gas stations, and restaurants all benefit from Clouser’s patrons.
On a deeper level, they are building bonds that will change the shape of this area. Kids from different sides of society join in unity behind a set of uniforms. Teams from the city get a taste of baseball in an idyllic setting. They are together for one goal.
“Teamwork in baseball is different,” Clouser tells me, “Take basketball. If you are down to the last few seconds, you can design something for your most talented player to get the ball. Baseball doesn’t have that option. If you are on your ninth hitter, then he needs to hit or you can go to a pinch hitter without a ton of game time. Every member of the team must be ready to contribute.”
We forget this in the mix of everyday life as our culture is set up to celebrate the star. We look to individuals as teamwork fades in the background.
When we struggle, it is too easy to get caught in the comparison trap. We aim our frustrations on one target ranging from our spouse to our children or coworkers. We forget that we do not live outside community as that small voice yells inside, kicking and screaming against a heavy silence that can wash over us.
This week, as baseball season has started on every level, learn the lessons of the game. Take in the sights, sounds, smells, and atmosphere. Celebrate unity and carry it through into your own life. Find a team or create your own. Be a part of a greater cause.
One idea, shared between friends, can change lives. It can shape the world. You can, and will, be a part of it.