As it turns out, you don't need a vast cornfield in Iowa to construct a great baseball diamond in your own backyard.

Instead of constructing a field for "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and other baseball legends to relive their glory days, Owensboro resident Derek Schneider's motivation was based on providing for the future. His son, Charles, was then a student at Sorgho Elementary, and he and his teammates needed a place to practice.

"We got started because we couldn't find a practice field," said Schneider, 55. "I hate to say it, but they don't have a lot of baseball diamonds anymore. The ones that are around, they're either booked up or closed, so we couldn't have practices. Our team had games but no practices.

"I said, well, I have a big, flat place out here. The answer was obvious."

And so, the idea was born.

In the back of his five-acre property on Airport Road, Schneider first used an old tennis wall as a backstop for the youngsters. As Charles and his friends got older, the backstop transitioned to the side of the neighbors' tobacco barn. Then, once they reached middle school, Derek Schneider opted for an even bigger plan.

"We had to do something different," he recalled. "So I built a regulation baseball diamond out here."

The field, now sporting a chain-link fence behind home plate with a scorer's table and even a bullpen area for pitchers to warm up, has the same dimensions as a regulation diamond -- 60 feet to the mound and 90 feet between bases.

The outfield extends to 300 feet in one direction and 350 feet in the other.

There's also a detached storage garage that Schneider converted into a batting cage, which is available to Charles and his friends almost around the clock.

Eventually, he plans to add lights so the boys can practice into the evening.

Schneider even has a "Field of Dreams" plaque on the field to commemorate what he's built.

"If you build it, they will come," Schneider said with a chuckle. "That's been the truth. We built it, and the boys will always come over or ask to use the field or the batting cage. Even if it's not a scheduled practice, the kids are over here a couple days a week."

Charles Schneider, 14, will be a freshman at Apollo High School next fall and can easily see the impact that the facilities have made.

"Whenever we didn't have this, we usually just had practice once a week," the aspiring 6-foot-2 lefty pitcher said. "Having more practices helps me really make my batting stance a lot better and helps me improve my performance.

"Especially after school, if we don't have practice, we come out here and hit. It helps me stay maintained so I don't get rusty."

He's not the only one, either.

"We had 13 kids from Apollo all coming out here during the winter to practice," Derek Schneider said. "And they all made the team. The extra practice paid off."

Dubbed Fighting Fox Field, the diamond also serves as a tribute of sorts to the cavalry unit -- the famed F Troop, known as Fighting Fox -- that Schneider commanded during the course of a 30-year career in the Army. Originally from Sacramento, California, Schneider now works for MasterBrand Cabinets in Indiana.

His wife, Lori, insists on handling all of the yard work, but Derek and Charles are the only grounds crew for the baseball diamond.

"We'll go out before people come over, and we'll get everything ready," said Derek, noting that Charles' summer league team practices there every Sunday afternoon.

The Schneiders also have a daughter, Cat -- a member of the Apollo dance team -- and it's not uncommon to find a number of their children's friends just hanging out at the house.

Even though it's been a few years, Derek Schneider added, the novelty of having his own baseball field isn't lost on him.

"Sometimes I'll sit out there on the porch and put my feet up and just look out," he said. "It's every dad's dream to be able to do something like this for his kid.

"We bought this home in 2010. We never planned to put in a ballfield. Charles was still playing T-Ball, so we weren't even thinking that. This was our forever home, and now our forever home has a forever baseball diamond.

"In four years, Charles will be off away to college, and I'll have a baseball diamond in the backyard. I guess I'll have to open it up to the younger generation and see who else wants to play."

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