BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — It could have been time for Andy Ommen to change hobbies.
“This is my hobby,” Ommen said as he pointed to baseball diamonds. “I’m a volunteer.”
The veteran groundskeeper drove to the McLean County PONY Baseball Complex on June 26 and saw the fields he loves under water. That weekend three days of heavy rain nearly washed out the complex.
“One field was about 24 inches under water,” said Ommen, who’s ful-time job is at State Farm but has been the volunteer head groundskeeper for the McClean County PONY League for 16 years. “You laugh, there’s not a darn thing you can do. Panicking doesn’t do you any good. This year is uncanny. The rain and heat and constant heavy over these periods of time did us in.”
The flood killed off the grass on one of his fields. That one will have to be reseeded for next year.
But he resuscitated the other diamonds to help keep the youth baseball alive in the Twin Cities.
“It’s not just me, we have a crew of volunteers,” Ommen said. “We rented a six-inch diesel power pump, the same kind they pump lakes and rivers with and ran the water out of the complex.”
Amazingly, they barely missed a week’s worth of games after the heavy rains. And they are on pace to play 1,000 games at the facility this summer.
“All we were thinking is how can we get to playing baseball as soon as possible. The kids love the complex, they want to be here. After a COVD year, the parents want them out of the house,” Ommen said.
“Our biggest thing is to play as many games as we can.”