KING, N.C. — When David Spainhour lets Little League teams use the miniature Fenway Park he built in his backyard, he has one rule: “They can’t wear Yankee hats,” he said with a smile.
Spainhour has had a long love affair with the Boston Red Sox, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
He and his wife, Traci, had their wedding in 1993, went to Boston for their honeymoon and, naturally, attended a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
“Now, we can look in our backyard and see a mini Fenway,” said David, who built the field himself two years ago for a cost of about $10,000.
Traci and David’s five boys, who range in age from 10 to 19, offered plenty of cheap labor as the family built its field of dreams.
“We toyed with the idea of just building a regular baseball field,” Spainhour said. “But then we said, ‘Why don’t we build it to resemble Fenway?’”
The Spainhours have plenty of land — they also have a pool and a full-size basketball court behind their house.
David, who makes his living as an owner of several storage facilities, said he doesn’t mind Little Leaguers’ using his field because they’re getting a history lesson on baseball.
Tobi Marshall, a lifelong friend of Spainhour, is a coach at North Forsyth Little League. His team (the Astros) and another NFLL team (the Phillies) had a two-hour practice at the mini Fenway earlier this month.
The coaches pitched batting practice to the 9-, 10- and 11-year-olds, and several players hit balls off the replica of the famed Green Monster in left field.
“David’s great about letting my team come here each year for a practice or two, and we do it toward the end of the year,” Marshall said. “The kids just love it, but truth be told, us coaches get a kick out of it even more because he did a great job on this field.”
Brett Moyer, the coach of the Phillies, said that his team had a blast.
At the end of the night, before darkness set in, parents and players from both teams posed for a picture at the base of the Green Monster.
“The kids had a great time,” Moyer said. “And the field is such a great replica.”
The field also has a replica Pesky Pole (named after former Red Sox great Johnny Pesky) down the right-field foul line, and the Little Leaguers were allowed to sign it.
“I had told my kids for years we were going to build a baseball field, and we’d hit balls on a makeshift field,” Spainhour said. “But then the kids got bigger, so I kept messing with it; and then I just figured out where I could grade it, and I sodded the infield and just kept going.”
He used sheets of plywood for the outfield walls and painted them Fenway green. Using a projector at night, he shined a replica of Fenway’s scoreboard on the wall and traced it with a crayon.
“The next day, we painted the scoreboard onto the wall,” he said.
It wasn’t until Spainhour started to think about the kind of fence to put up in the outfield that he decided on mini Fenway.
“I kept thinking what kind of fence should we put up out there, and I thought about a chain-link fence,” Spainhour said. “But then I just said, ‘Why don’t we build a wall with plywood?”
The field has lush green grass in the outfield and infield, and Spainhour said that although keeping it looking good isn’t easy, he has a lot of help from his boys. He also tries to paint the outfield walls at least once a year.
“I think we’ll keep this up and keep it going even though the kids are getting older,” Spainhour said. “It’s not cheap to keep a baseball field up, but the kids and Traci and I really like it.”
The Green Monster is used for more than baseball. Spainhour said he has set up a big projector to show movies on the wall at night.
“A lot of people see it for the first time, and they are fascinated by it,” Spainhour said. “We have a few people in the development that live behind us, and they’ve come to look at it just to see. It’s kind of a conversation starter, that’s for sure.”
Marshall said he’s grateful that Spainhour allows his team to use the field.
“It’s a good practice, plus the kids get a little history lesson,” Marshall said. “And I’m a big Boston fan, and my son is a big Boston fan, also.
“I’ve been to Fenway three or four times and except for the Fenway Franks, it’s the same.”