CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. — On a Friday afternoon, the Cedar Springs High School baseball teams had reached the end of practice. The afternoon sun was blazing and the temperatures were in the 80s. The coaches played a game to determine which age group would be in charge of cleaning up the field for the day.
The freshmen, dressed up in their black uniforms, cheered as they learned they had lucked out. They were able to go home early while some of the older players stuck around to pick up the balls and drag the dirt on the infield.
It was good news for 15-year-old Logan Redes, not only because he got out of doing extra work, but also because he was about to show me one of his favorite places in the world.
Two miles east of the Cedar Springs school campus, on Shaner Avenue, a line of trees and an old farm gate leads the way to several ball fields that make up the Cedar Springs Junior Ball League Complex. This is where Logan learned to play baseball when he was four or five years old.
"When I first started out it was called blast ball. You hit it off the tee. You run to first [base]. You jump on it. It squeaks. It's always fun," he said.
The memories bring a smile to Logan's face. But since his days playing on these fields, there's something he finds troubling about the place.
"I noticed that the bleachers started getting old and started to break down and not want to hold up anymore," he said.
A lot of the bleachers at the complex are wooden. At best, they're dated, compared to the few sets of aluminum bleachers that have been put up. At worst, they've become a safety hazard. It's noticeable where entire sections of bleachers have been removed along the field. You've can also see where those old relics have been stacked along the tree line.
Logan is a Boy Scout working to achieve the distinguished honor of Eagle Scout, and in selecting his Eagle Scout project, he's seen an opportunity to give back to a place that's meant so much to him and his family.
"My project is to replace the wooden bleachers here to aluminum like the one right over here, and to pretty much replace the bleachers entirely. It's a $30,000 project," he said.
To reach his ambitious fundraising goal, Logan has enlisted the help of local businesses. He's also started collecting pop cans to be returned to the store in exchange for the money he hopes will build those bleachers. At the time this story was published, Logan had raised $2,581.
"Every time either we get a donation or we have a great return can day, the excitement is overwhelming," said Logan's mom Jenny Redes.
"The whole family is so happy that he's doing this, and to be a part of this journey with him. It's really exciting. It's really a great moment because we've all lived at these fields too. It wasn't just him growing up here. We all did. We were all freezing and sweating on these bleachers. So it's exciting."
Logan says if people want to help, they can donate online. They can also drop their cans off at a fenced-in area right next to the front gate of the CSJBL complex. He's also hoping people will spread the word and share this story. He's excited to help preserve these fields for years to come.
"It would feel amazing to see people still using the fields and the bleachers," he said.
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