By Kevin Wilson
TEXICO — Buddy Vaughan’s backyard is certainly not a cornfield in Iowa. But thanks to his frustrations and adaptations six years ago, it’s become a field of dreams for Texico High School baseball.
In the late 1990s, Vaughan was a Little League coach in Clovis. The problem wasn’t his players, but instead their practices. His players were mostly from Texico, so practice time meant travel time, assuming they could find a field in the first place.
“I was coaching Little League and it was always difficult to find places to practice,” Vaughan said. “Whenever I lived in Clovis, I tried to take the kids somewhere where we could hit grounders. I said if I ever live out of town, I’ll get land so I can make a field.”
When he did move, he did just that. Vaughan and his family started work on the practice field, which he said was nothing beyond a lawn with some bases.
It was more than anybody else had, though, and Buddy’s sons — Aaron and Braden — would practice when they weren’t watching Atlanta Braves games.
“It was nice,” said Aaron, 15, “because we got to go out and practice whenever we liked. Our dad would pitch to us now and then.”
Before too long, Vaughan’s backyard became a field of champions, as the American Devil Rays won three straight Tri-County tournaments from 1998-2000 under his direction. Though Vaughan doesn’t coach anymore, the field still gets used every summer by youth teams.
“What’s happening is you’re finding parents coaching now are in that same predicament I was,” Vaughn said, “trying to find a place to practice. The field’s there, so it might as well get used.”
If it was just a field for Little League, that would be enough for Vaughn and his family. However, it became a foundation for a budding baseball program in 2001, when Texico High School opted to begin a baseball program.
The Wolverines are in their second year of competition, and while they still don’t have a home — Texico plays its home games at Brady Field — they’ve always had a place to practice.
“That helps us a lot,” fTexico coach Richard Luscombe said, “because of the simple fact that we’ve got regulation size bases. We can work on a lot of the fundamental aspects that we have to work on otherwise.”
The Wolverine record would seem to agree. Texico is 9-4 heading into Monday’s District 7-1A/2A game with Dora, and a 4-2 district record has the team in the hunt for a playoff berth.
“My impression is that people are already talking about us and we’re already a contender,” Buddy Vaughan said of the team, which features Aaron at second base and Braden splitting time between pitching, catching and shortstop. “I think it’s going pretty good. We’ve got a lot of good kids, a lot of good talent.”
But still no field. It’s not a question of effort from the school. Instead, it’s one of acreage.
“I think there’s a lot of interest in baseball and there are some plans in the works,” Luscombe said. “They’re tyring to get it done, but we’re just landlocked (at the school). If we get into a situation where we can get some land, we could build the field pretty quickly.”
Texico might need outside help to secure land, but it’s a problem that Vaughan thinks will be solved in due time.
“The administration and the school board, they’re working on possibilities for a field,” Vaughan said. “Once that’s done, I know building the field is going to be a cooperative effort with baseball parents and the school.”
Until that time comes, the Wolverines will dream of a field and practice on a makeshift field of dreams. It’s not quite like the one where Kevin Costner played a game of catch, but it’s good enough for now.
“It’s a long ways from that,” Vaughan saidx. “They made theirs pretty professional-looking. Ours isn’t that, but it’s definitely very usable.”