The Barnstormer Baseball Club was formed in 1998 and is a non-profit travel baseball club located in Bettendorf, Iowa. The Barnstormers organization’s goal is to help young baseball players build their baseball skills, while emphasizing leadership, sportsmanship & teamwork. The ballpark is located at Noel Farms, at the junction of Devils Glen Rd and Forest Grove. There are 2 ball diamonds at this location: “Lil Wrigley” and “Lil Fenway”. The older Barnstormer players play at Eldridge’s Sports Town Baseball Complex and Pleasant Valley Junior High in LeClaire.
The ballpark at Noel Farms, home to the Barnstormers ball club, is barely visible from the juncture of Devils Glen Road and Forest Grove Drive. One has to look closely beyond tall, wind-rustled stalks of growing corn to spot the metal backdrop, part of the park’s “Lil Wrigley” ball diamond.
Entering the park on a chipped gravel driveway, players, parents and visitors see a world where Barnstormer players are learning baseball and team skills.
Two ball diamonds make up the main playing area: “Lil Wrigley” is one, “Lil Fenway” the other: sports a large blockade wall on the left outfield side similar to it’s Boston namesake.
A batting cage and pitching machines are set up in another corner. Plans call for installing a concession area in the future.
Randy Scott, one of the Barnstormer developers, spends a lot of time out at the field. Other organizers include Bill Sandry and Tom Bush, who played major roles in developing the Barnstormers youth league. We’re out here because we enjoy being around youth. Most of us have sons”, said Scott.
The ballpark at Noel Farms was formally dedicated on May 1. Club organizers felt a new youth baseball team would complement other Quad-City teams.
The club teaches baseball skills and helps youngsters develop leadership abilities, sportsmanship and teamwork, participants say. Players are divided into three teams, the Quad-City Tornadoes, Quad-city Heat and Quad-City Lightning. Nine year old Sam Hershberger likes being part of the QC Tornadoes. He plays a variety of positions – pitcher, shortstop, outfield and catcher. “It’s really fun and great”, he noted. He’s glad a lot of dads and moms have taken the time to develop the ballpark into a good playing area. A first year Barnstormer, Sam has played baseball for four years. Like his 11 team-mates, he’s growing accustomed to player-pitched rather than coach-pitched games. One of the parts he likes best is the fact that he has his team-mates as friends.
Barnstormer club is affiliated with the American Athletic Union. It offers tournament play and instruction. Last Friday, members of the Bettendorf High School baseball team came out and instructed groups of Barnstormers in pitching and catching techniques. The young players appreciated the advice given by BHS Coach Jay Fitzgerald and his players. Faces serious under blue or red Barnstormer caps, each youngster took a turn at stepping right foot forward to pitch a ball or to learn the fastest way to take a base.
Bettendorf players Justin Siefken, No. 17 and Mike Miller, No. 13, enjoyed interacting with Sam and his teammates. Miller, who plays both football and baseball, grinned when one boy told him, “Man, you were my best friend!” Siefken, who plans to play baseball for the University of Kansas Jayhawks, said the group was pretty excited about the interaction. “There’s some good kids coming up,” he said. A couple of youngsters reminded Siefken of himself at their age. As a nine year old, he said he probably couldn’t have visualized himself as a future college player. He was short at the time and not very skilled. Fortunately he outgrew both.
The ballpark at Noel Farms is leased to the Barnstormers by the Mary Noel family. The farm has seen many uses through the years – providing forestry products, growing corn and soybeans, grazing for livestock, etc. Noel and her family allowed the Barnstormers to erect the ballfield.
Scott hopes the club can use the ballfields for many years to come. Although used for agriculture, the land is zone C-1, according to city of Bettendorf documents. The City Council recently approved a site development plan for the property: Article 3 of the plan states a formal Landscape Plan would not be required due to the temporary nature of the use. Barnstormers enthusiasts hope the ballfields will not be temporary. Club leaders have tentatively scheduled tryouts for next year’s team in September. They also plan to increase the age to ten in order to keep current Barnstormers playing.