As someone who spent many a summer afternoon playing a few innings of wiffle ball around a swimming pool, I really enjoyed Explorer News reporter Brad Allis' recent profile of Catalina High School teacher John Faruolo, who has built himself quite a ballpark:
That first year morphed into an annual tradition and the Tucson Round-Up got bigger and bigger and the field got more and more elaborate. What started as 10 childhood friends getting together for sports and warm weather eventually got to be a family thing. As the friends got older, they stared having families and soon the children were part of the game.
The field has grown every year. Faruolo, and later his sons, would add to it. An outfield fence was built, including a Fenway-esque Green Monster. An outfield seating area was built. They added a flag, light poles and a corrugated metal “short porch” that makes a loud sound if a home run hits it.
Faruolo, an art teacher at Catalina High School, even painted the official wiffle ball logo and mounted it in right center field.
“It is supposed to look like an old-time ball park,” Faruolo said. “It started out as a rudimentary field and then quickly escalated into his field of dreams, and well, the field of dreams of all the guys from his New York high school,” Angela said.
Some big-leaguers have come by to take a few swings:
The field as even seen some professional baseball players come out. Faruolo worked with a long term substitute, whose husband was former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Schultz and a few of his baseball playing friends.
Faruolo pitched batting practice, getting the best of former major leaguer Brian Barden for a little bit.
“I get on the mound and I dial up my best stuff, it is my chance,” Faruolo said. “15 pitches in and I realize he hasn’t hit anything yet.”
After everyone took their cuts, they actually played a game and again Faruolo came out on top for three innings, but soon something clicked for the pros and they figured out the timing.
“All of the sudden they are hitting rockets,” Faruolo explained. “They figured me out and my advantage was gone.”