The Good Stuff: Pray Ball

The Good Stuff: Pray Ball

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - It is both an eye sore and a sore spot with many who call Shreveport home.

The Good Stuff: Pray Ball

"Basically, when the last team left here, they just put the gates on here and walked away," says local realtor Shayne Sharkey.

Over 25 years of minor league baseball at Fair Grounds Field ended 7 years ago when the Captains baseball organization moved away.

The stadium has fallen into disrepair with wood rotting, weeds growing out of control, and reportedly bat colony 30,000 strong living in the undercarriage of the bleachers.

But despite the ballpark's condition, Sharkey sees hope.

"I've been in real estate for 24 years, so I've seen a lot of foreclosed property. So this is nothing."

Sharkey founded the group, 'Play Ball Shreveport'.

His plan is to bring baseball back to Fair Grounds Field.

Fair Grounds Field
Fair Grounds Field

Sharkey hopes to turn Fair Grounds Field into a showcase venue to host youth, high school and college baseball, softball and soccer.

"Our children must have opportunities to dream bigger. But they can't dream bigger if they're not exposed to bigger," says fellow 'Play Ball Shreveport' member Bishop L. Lawrence Brandon of Praise Temple Full Gospel of Shreveport.

Sharkey and Brandon feel by opening up Fair Grounds Field to youth sports, including sports camps, it will also better serve inner-city Shreveport, in part, by re-introducing baseball to community of children who have been priced-out for years.

"So to re-introduce baseball back into our community, it would bring life to our parks, and we could see children playing ball and understanding what teamwork is all about," adds Brandon.

Sharkey first approached Bishop Brandon earlier this year to pray over his plans to bring Fair Grounds Field back to life.

"It was my honor to pray for him and for his heart and all that is involved in this iniative," adds Brandon.

And now both men pray that a love of baseball will spread far beyond Fair Grounds Field, to parks throughout Shreveport.

"If children understand the game and are introduced to it, they'll have a love and passion for it," explains Brandon.

"And they'll do what they can to purchase, bats, balls and gloves."

Sharkey first got the idea of creating a sports venue that would directly, and indirectly, serve youngsters all across Shreveport from his son's time playing baseball at Loyola Prep.

"Loyola was playing Huntington and during that game, they had 10 players on the team, their catcher's mit broke and they had only three bats," remembers Sharkey.

Almost immediately, Loyola's coach Dusty Griffis decided there was much his team could do, not just to beat Huntington, but to help them.

"The game isn't always about you. It's about somebody else being able to play the game, too," Griffis says.

In the years that have follow, Loyola hosts a 'Huntington Day' where Huntington players work out with the Loyola baseball team.

Coach Griffis also donates unforms and equipment to Huntington's team.

"Our kids have bought into it. We feed them and share the gospel with them," adds Griffis.

And its in that spirit that Sharkey hopes his city-wide idea takes shape.

“I can’t wait until I hear the umpire call out, ‘Play ball Shreveport’.”

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