Photo Courtesy: Ben Hartnell

WESTERVILLE, Ohio- “If there’s been a positive during this quarantine time, it’s people have had to become more creative,” says Westerville resident Ben Hartnell.

What You Need To Know

  • With the Little League Baseball season cancelled because of Covid-19, an Ohio father and his son used imagination to create a back yard “Field of Dreams.”

  • Ben and Fraser Hartnell a 20 team league, as well as a baseball field, banners, and cardboard cutout fans 

  • Both say they will forever cherish the moments and challenge others to be creative during these uncertain times 

Hartnell and his son, 10-year-old Fraser, were devastated when they found out Little League Baseball was cancelled this year.

So after some brainstorming with his wife, the Westerville North High School History Teacher had a plan for the ages.

“We just knew the baseball season wasn’t going to happen. And so Dad says, go to the table, I have a surprise for you. And he comes down, wearing a baseball uniform and says we’re going to have our own league in the back yard,” says Frasier Hartnell.

And just like that, the 20 team “Westerville Back Yard Baseball League” was born.

The home team is the Westerville Tropics...their homage to the cult classic, Semi-Pro.

The Hartnell’s created a baseball field complete with banners; spray painted foul lines, and cardboard cutout fans.

Just like Little League, the two played two games per week, six innings per game, as well as an obstacle course of sorts to make it interesting.

“So if it hits a trash can it’s an out, goes in a hula hoop it’s an out, but If it hits a trash can and goes in a hula hoop its a double play,” says Fraser Hartnell.

It was a great teaching experience for the coach, and Fraser too, who learned how to keep a scorebook, different pitches, baseball rules, strategy, and fundamentals.

“We’re using these slugs, which are these weighted baseballs. So he can take full swings, he can do everything. Instead of the ball going 100 feet, it would go five to 10 feet on a solid hit, so it takes all of the power out, but you’re able to actually work on your swing,” says Ben Hartnell.

And although their season has come to a close, and the Tropics are the undisputed champions, both father and son say they’re looking forward to the return of Major League Baseball next month.

Both say the Legend of the “Westerville Back Yard Baseball League” is one they’ll talk about for years to come.

“I think that was the coolest thing, is just kind of remembering back when things did seem simpler, where we just went outside and played,” says Ben Hartnell.

“Just hanging out with my Dad playing some baseball.” It was a lot of fun wasn’t it? “Yeah it was,” says Fraser Hartnell.