An ocean – and a good amount of time (37 years since high school graduation, to be exact) – have separated David Kiger and Bill Dickman. But now they have reunited to help further develop youth baseball in Germany.
Baseball in Germany?
Despite the tremendous standing of soccer (excuse us, “Fussball”) in the German sport landscape, baseball has found its fervent followers and niche. “Bill has been sharing his passion of baseball in Germany over many years and has built a wonderful platform for kids and adults; players and fans alike, to enjoy the sport we both grew up with,” noted David.
Indeed, it was some 15 years ago that the community of Hünstetten (12 miles outside of Wiesbaden) was first introduced to the sport via Bill. An “Introduction to Baseball Day” resulted in over 90 children showing a genuine interest in playing the sport. Now after a decade and a half, the STORM (name of the club) has woven itself deeply into the community fabric with 5 teams, annual successes and positive influences into families’ lives.
What’s this about?
“For the past years our players have played baseball on a soccer field. Despite all the fun and successes, it’s not the most ideal of conditions for the game or for developing players. The lacking field dimensions, no basepaths, no mound, no backstop, no fences, and, and, and…” explains Dickman. “We’re happy to play the sport, but after so many years, the players certainly deserve to play on a true baseball field.”
The community of Hünstetten has purchased land for the purposes of building fields. The Baseball Booster Club (Förderverein) is now responsible for the funding and building of the fields and hopes to break ground this summer; project completion for the 2019 season.
So, what connects the two?
David and Bill grew up in Upper Arlington (NB: a suburb of Columbus, Ohio), were in the same graduation class, and even played baseball together in high school. Paths parted soon after though – as David studied at the University of Alabama, and Bill studied at Florida Southern College. Not only did they share the strong foundation their childhood stomping grounds provided; but they also have a common brotherhood bond since they both became members of the Sigma Chi Fraternity at their respective schools.
“Bill reached out to me and explained the objective of providing kids and adults an opportunity to play baseball on proper fields. We grew up in an environment, where if you can help friends, and it makes sense, then you do it,” explains David. “David is widely admired for his business acumen, hard-work, dedication and success”, says Bill, “and made the decision to help.”
“Potentially overstepping friendship and brotherhood boundaries was a major concern of mine. But – David listened carefully, posed appropriate questions, and clearly assessed the situation. His decision to support is generous and is greatly appreciated.” Through the big-heartedness of individuals – such as David – the funding objective has already surpassed the halfway mark, and The Booster Club hopes to spark further interest in those who can help.
The essential building measures; including grading, drainage, fencing, etc., will cost approx. 375,000 €. Surpassing the half-way mark now allows the project to begin breaking ground this year. Bill explains that “a number of irons for funding are still in the fire”; but finds it extra special when a friend extends his support.
An enormous “Danke Schön” goes to Herr Kiger.
STORM looks forward to the 2019 season when kids and adults can take to their own field, and hear the familiar cry for the start of Spring…”Play Ball.”
Still requiring support. Donations/support to help build the fields are greatly needed and very welcomed. If you wish to support in any fashion, please contact Bill Dickman via the STORM Club or Facebook.