Spartans' field of dreams takes shape at Staindrop
BASEBALL is coming to Teesdale.
Staindrop Academy is to be the new home of the Durham Spartans.
Volunteers and officials at the club are taking advantage of the current lockdown to create their new diamond in one corner to school's playing field after the academy gave the go-ahead for the team to move in.
The club's Peter Spencer said an upsurge in interest in the sport meant the team needed a new ground.
“We have been around for a while – since 2010 – during which time we have ebbed and flowed,” he said.
“A couple of years ago, a number of players retired, so we needed to have a year of rebuilding and it has now come to a point where we felt we needed a new pitch.
“We were having problems with our existing pitch, so we requested interest from a number of place and Staindrop Academy came back and said they were keen.”
Baseball is a summer sport and with no action due to the Covid-19 restrictions, a start has been made on carving out the diamond.
The pitch is full sized – 90ft between each of the bases and an outfield which stretches 300ft.
“We are building the pitch slowly but surely,” said Mr Spencer.
“Because of the restrictions, it has mainly been one person working individually.
“All the bases have to be dug out and made level and then we have to create the pitcher's mound ten inches above ground.”
When action does restart, Durham Spartans will be part of the Northern Baseball League, which extends south to Nottingham and Sheffield, east to Hull and west to Liverpool and Runcorn.
The Spartans were the most northerly team until Newcastle entered the league a couple of seasons ago.
The team covers the county, but includes players from Barnard Castle, Staindrop, Darlington and Durham.
The league season runs from Easter to the August bank holiday, but training means players get together from February to October.
Mr Spencer said interest in the sport was currently on the up across the UK, with Major League Baseball games involving teams from Boston and New York selling out when they came to London last year.
“We are always looking for new players. You have to be 14 and older to play in the senior team,” said Mr Spencer.
“We are also looking to expand to include juniors and plan to work with the academy to do some sessions with them as well.”
He added: “Baseball is growing in popularity. It has a long history in the UK and has a following here.
“It was also due to be one of the demonstration sports in the Tokyo Olympics this year.
“Unfortunately we are the same as everywhere. There is no training at the moment but there are regular meetings with the league.”
Anyone wishing to find out more can contact the club via its website www.durham spartans.co.uk or through Facebook – search for Durham Spartans.