Youngster crafts pint-sized Comerica Park

Most kids are loathe to mow the lawn. It is, after all, a chore, and they aren’t supposed to like chores. As kids, they’re supposed to be allergic to them.

Not Eddie Zajdel. The 14-year-old Tigers fan from suburban Detroit pushes his mower until at least 8 p.m., every day of the week, meticulously maintaining his pint-sized Comerica Park.

Since 2011, he has transformed his family’s backyard into his little Dyersville, Iowa, his
Wiffle Ball “Field of Dreams.” All he is missing is Ray Liotta.
 
On weekends, he’s out there until 9 p.m., carefully manicuring the grass, removing mud from the bases and repainting the foul lines.

For the record, it’s 42 feet down the left-field line, 55 down the line in right and 63 to straight-away center. The bases are 35 feet apart. Same goes from the mound to home plate.

Eddie hand-chalks the batter’s box, rakes the pitchers mound and edges the infield. He even has installed a fence, part of a backstop and floodlights on top of his garage for night games.

And, of course, Eddie couldn’t leave out the famous Comerica Park keyhole: the strip of dirt that connects the pitchers mound to the batter’s box.

Why does he do all of this?

“I got inspired by the way Comerica Park looked and the way it was prepped every game,” he said. “And how, no matter if it rained or shined, there’s always a way to get it that good. It kinda seemed like the park had immunity to the weather.”

This offseason Eddie contacted the Tigers about going to Comerica during the spring, but not to see the team play.

“He actually came out in the springtime, and he said he wanted to come out and see the grass before it came out of its dormancy,” said Heather Nabozny, the Tigers’ head groundskeeper.

Behavior, she said, unlike anything she has seen from a 14-year-old.

“Dormancy” is not a word traditionally found in a teen-ager’s vocabulary. But then again, there is little traditional about Eddie.

His landscaping ambition also got him in some trouble with the police when he was just 7 years old. Officers were called for a complaint that involved the kid operating a gas-powered mower.

What about when he got to trot around the bases at the real Comerica Park? Eddie was way more into the grass than running the bases, according to his mother.

Eddie also maintains a website (plymouthbrewers.webs.com) about his field and his Wiffle Ball league.

Most parents have to beg their kids to use the lawn mower; Eddie’s have to ask him to stop pushing the thing. But they are very supportive — his dad was the one to install the lights on the garage — and they don’t seem primed to put the kibosh on it yet, which is good for Eddie and his next project.

So what does the mini-groundskeeper have in store for Pepsi Park, the name Eddie gave his little field because “he wanted something that was very common but not known as a ballpark.”

“I decided to construct a bullpen,” he said on his website.

Lucky for his demanding grass, he has all summer to maintain the dream.