PLYMOUTH, Mich. (WLNS) – There is nothing quite like the experience of live baseball. The grass, the dirt, the sunshine and the chalk lines underneath abundant sunshine, sunsets or bright lights. Overpriced beers and the right mix of action and leisure — it is hard to imagine all of that without your senses tingling.
It is like a slice of heaven.
As hunger grows for the uncertain return of America’s pastime during the coronavirus pandemic, one man in Plymouth, Mich. has managed to capture some of baseball’s magic in his backyard. He has done it by creating a private Wiffle ball field that looks like a miniature professional ballpark.
Each time Eddie Zajdel steps onto his field nestled into his narrow backyard, he is transported back to when he attended a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park when he was 14 years old. Considering the grass on his Wiffle ball field is from the same grass farm used to turf Comerica, it is difficult for Zajdel to escape the nostalgia.
“I get that feeling every single time I walk into my backyard,” Zajdel said. “I don’t really know how I’d describe it.”
Now 22 years old, the experience Zajdel had at Comerica Park eight years ago hit him like a semitruck. The detail and precision of the whole experience resonated with him, along with the social atmosphere. He wanted to capture as much of that as possible and share it with others.
After starting off with a modest do-it-yourself mound in the backyard when he was 12 years old, Zajdel has since poured an estimated $10,000 worth of work — including donated sod and dirt — into what is currently known as Zajdel Park.
He said much of the cost went into the field’s foundation, and it’s easy to see why. The precisely manicured field is a laser-leveled playing surface with a professional-grade infield mix basepath, while the rest of the infield and outfield are covered by a specialty blend of Kentucky Bluegrass harvested from Schaafsma’s Sod Farm in St. Anne, Ill. The chalk foul lines reach out to a small fence line in right field located 65 feet away from home plate, with left field stretching 60 feet away to a much taller netting fence in left. Trying to go yard to straight away center? That will be 70 feet.
Each base is 35 feet apart and the mound is 35 feet away from home plate. There are a few professional-grade LED lights with the ability to emit 500 lumens each, costing $500 to $600 a piece.
“This was my dream since I was 14 years old,” Eddie said. “Now, it’s here. Now, you can actually see it and you can actually experience it. Now, it actually exists.”
On the luxurious end of things, Zajdel built a walk-up bar along the third baseline patio to satisfy any needs related to adult beverages. The bar includes TV screens, lighting, stools and the works. There is even an outdoor hot tub and fireplace that overlooks the field.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to get this thing to the point where it is now,” Eddie said. “Just these last three or four months, we’ve really, really spiced this thing up.”
Naturally, Eddie is used to hearing comparisons between his efforts and the movie “Field of Dreams,” the baseball movie classic from 1989 starring Kevin Costner. In the movie, Costner sets out to build a baseball field in his farm’s cornfield, all under mysterious circumstances.
“I probably get a comment like once a week that we should plant corn,” Zajdel said. “Like past the right field fence so you could hit the ball into the corn and all that. I’m a huge fan of that movie.”
The movie “Field of Dreams” is most known for the famous line, “If you build it, they will come.” It is a line that resonates with Zajdel too. However, no one can visit the field he built. Because of the stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders implemented as a result of the coronavirus, the field has not received the grand opening Zajdel hoped.
Part of the reason why Zajdel set out to make his Wiffle ball field was to share it with others. As a filmmaker with three short films available on Amazon Prime, Zajdel loves sharing his creations. With his field, Zajdel hopes those who come will experience the same feelings he had years ago at Comerica Park.
“I want to share this,” Zajdel said. “It means nothing unless other people get to experience this.”
This story is adapted from MLive.