Boy Scout to polish up Shoeless Joe baseball field for his Eagle Project

Diamond in the Rough

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Adding a scoreboard and batting cage are among the upgrades Joshua Barrow plans for the baseball field at Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park, located in the historic Brandon Mill community. Photo by Will Crooks

Joshua Barrow, a rising sophomore at Greenville Technical Charter High School, only started playing baseball last year, but he’s always been a fan of the game. So when it came time for Barrow, a Boy Scout, to decide what to do for his Eagle Project, he knew he wanted it to revolve around America’s pastime.

The Eagle Project is a community service and leadership project required for a Boy Scout to achieve the prized Eagle Scout rank. A member of Troop 521 based out of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the 15-year-old Barrow will have until his 18th birthday to complete his chosen Eagle Project: a comprehensive renovation of the baseball field at Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park, located on the west side of Greenville in the historic Brandon Mill community.

According to Greenville County Rec, baseball teams composed of textile mill workers — including the park’s famed namesake, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson — practiced and competed on the original field.

Barrow selected the Shoeless Joe field not only for its historic significance but also from an experience he had playing on it for a baseball game last year. Being on the field led him to see its deficient conditions firsthand.

Over the course of his project, Barrow will install a new drain system in left field, which currently retains standing pools of water following rainfall. He’ll also remodel the third-base-side bullpen, construct a new bullpen for the first-base side, and add a batting cage and scoreboard. To prevent erosion in the third-base bullpen, Barrow plans to install a railroad tie retaining wall.

As a longtime Scout, Barrow has a clear-cut motivation for becoming an Eagle Scout. “I don’t like to leave anything unfinished,” he says. “I don’t want to stop now.”

Although nearly three years may seem like a long time to complete an Eagle Project, Barrow isn’t waiting to get started. He hopes to have the new drainage system in left field installed by Oct. 21, the day of the vintage baseball doubleheader matchup between volunteers and fans of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville and the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, Ga.

A tradition since 2009, the annual game follows 1860s rules and terminology. This year, it will be held at the Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park field. By having one of the project’s phases completed, Barrow says he hopes to provide the game’s participants and spectators “with a better impression of this field.”

Barrow created a GoFundMe page at the end of May to raise funds for the renovation project. His goal is $25,000, and at press time, he has raised $855.

But the GoFundMe won’t be his lone source for revenue. Barrow says he plans on asking local corporations if they would like to help sponsor the project, and Lowe’s has already offered a generous discount on any construction materials he purchases.

For more information on Barrow’s Eagle Project, click here.

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