By Matt Kane
DELANO, MN Derek Spencer loves baseball and he loves Boy Scouts. So, naturally, he combined the two loves to come up with the perfect project to become an Eagle Scout.
Spencer, who recently completed eighth grade at Delano Middle School, designed, constructed, and installed bat and helmet racks in the 24 dugouts at the 12 baseball and softball fields in Delano, and bat racks in the six dugouts at the three youth fields in Loretto.
The installation of a custom bat rack in the visitor’s dugout at Delano Municipal Stadium will punctuate the 11-month project, which unofficially began with the idea in July 2013, leading to a concept and prototype presentation to the Delano Youth Baseball/Softball Association (DYBSA) Nov. 9, 2013.
“I think, overall, the project went very well and was a big success, despite all the problems,” said Spencer, who plays Sandy Koufax baseball in the Delano association. “I loved doing this project.”
It seems Spencer likes doing projects, in general. He already has plans to design a city sign for his hometown of Independence. Prior to his own Eagle Scout project, Spencer helped Dillon Field with the veterans’ memorial at the Delano American Legion Post 377.
While he, himself, is around dugouts all the time as a ball player, it was while Spencer was watching one of his sister Jordan’s 12U softball games that he thought of the bat-rack project.
“I got the idea while at my sister’s softball tournament in Kimball last year. One of the dugouts had a bat and helmet rack, which really helped keep the dugout safe and organized,” Spencer said. “It was then that I thought that it would be cool to have something like that at the Delano ball fields.”
Spencer knew what he wanted in a bat rack, but he had to figure out the correct materials and design.
“I arrived at the final design after looking at other possible options for materials wood, metal, plastic, PVC and picking the coolest one that had the combined qualities of durability and ease of repair,” he said. “And it needed to be something that could be constructed by my fellow Scouts, as Scout volunteer hours are needed to fill the project requirement.”
Following approval from the DYBSA, Delano Parks and Recreation and Delano Schools Activities Director Mike Lindquist, Spencer, and his Delano Troop 273 brothers, Nathan Moe, Alex Moe, Grant Hellmich, and David Gerecke, installed the first pair of bat and helmet racks at Field No. 10 in Delano May 3. In a week’s time, Spencer had the installation of the racks completed on 11 Delano fields.
“DYBSA was able to give input to the project, but, overall, Derek was the brains behind it, driving it to completion,” said DYBSA President Bill Peterson.
The racks were much-needed, according to Peterson.
“These racks absolutely filled a gap we had in the dugouts, and the quality and craftsmanship is outstanding,” he said. “The kids love them and they are used all the time.”
On May 23, with the help of Loretto Community Athletic Association members Herb and Jessie Koch, the Loretto leg of Spencer’s project was completed.
“We have never had bat racks, and now we do,” said Herb Koch. “He did a very good job constructing them. They should last a long time.”
Koch’s sentiments are the norm from those who manage and use the Delano fields, as well.
“I’ve gotten all positive feedback, and everybody is very thankful to have them,” said Spencer of the comments he has received.
In early June, just in time for the high school Section 5AA championship game, Spencer installed a bat rack in the first-base dugout at Delano Municipal Stadium.
Donations to the projects came from the DYBSA, Delano Lions Club and the Delano Knights of Columbus. The adult volunteers included Spencer’s dad, Brad Spencer; and Peter Steingas at Westwood Cabinets out of Minnetonka.
Spencer, 14, began his life in Scouts at the age of 7, when he joined Den 9 of the Delano Cub Scouts Pack 3273. He earned his Arrow of Light in March of 2011, and then crossed over to Boy Scout Troop 273. As a member of Troop 273, Spencer has attended summer camps at Tomahawk and Many Point, and also attended the 2013 National Jamboree at SBR in West Virginia.
“It’s important to me because I know it will help me out in the long run,” said Spencer of Boy Scouts. “I like being able to camp with friends and hang out with the camp counselors. So, my favorite part is probably the campouts.”
More than 2 million Scouts have earned the Eagle rank since the Boy Scouts began in 1911. Some notable recipients include astronaut Neil Armstrong, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NBA hall of famer Bill Bradley, President Gerald Ford, former CIA Director Robert Gates, baseball hall of famer executive Pat Gillick; Napoleon Dynamite, himself; Jon Heder, actor Ozzie Nelson, former White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, film director Steven Spielberg, NFL linebacker Manti Te’o, and Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino.
A complete rundown of Spencer’s busy life, including his Scouting, outdoors, and athletic history, can be found online at www.bradspencer.com.