The idea came to Roger Ratzlaff at his son’s end-of-the-season pool party last year.
Heritage Christian Academy baseball coach Bart Briley was talking about how he wanted to build a field for his Chargers team and about how he had just lost out on some land near the school in Olathe.
Into the picture enters Ratzlaff, who owns about a mile of land in an unincorporated corner of south Johnson County. He had been cleaning up his fields and tearing down a barn, which conveniently resulted in a patch of land that was the perfect size for a baseball field.
After about three months of working with the county, and several more months building the field, it was finally revealed on Thursday afternoon. In its first game at its new field, Heritage Christian Academy defeated Kansas City Christian 10-1.
The field is named the Virginia Sue Field of Dreams, after Ratzlaff’s wife.
“It all came together,” Ratzlaff said. “We feel it was all God’s plan. It’s worked great.”
The grass is still a little barren, the pitcher’s mound was not quite compacted and the speakers were a little scratchy, but the ballfield is good enough for the Chargers’ final three games of the season. The school is planning a larger ribbon cutting ceremony in the fall.
“Heritage is a small school,” Briley said. “Everyone knows everybody, and we have a lot of families that love baseball, so everyone came together to do this. It’s quite a thing because this is only our fourth year of baseball, so to already have a field will set us apart a little bit in the small Christian school community.”
Ratzlaff, along with other parents at Heritage Christian, have raised more than $200,000 toward the cause and even more pledges are coming in to help pay for a scoreboard and an infield irrigation system.
“Our school is based on community and partnership — with the parents and the school coming together. Without that, nothing happens,” Heritage Christian president Rick Lukianuk said. “We don’t have a lot of extraneous funding and we really depend on people doing things on their own. Then the kids see the parents working together and learn to be a better baseball team and better adults when they see generosity.”
Senior pitcher Josh Hough led the Chargers to victory on Thursday, allowing just one run on nine hits in seven innings. He had two walks and 12 strikeouts, along with an RBI triple in the first inning.
“It feels really good,” Hough said. “I was hitting my spots and my outside corner was working today.”