Bristol’s Field of Dreams
By 06/01/2000 00:00:00
BRISTOL - He built it and they came. Thousands upon thousands of people of all ages have played, watched, won, lost, cried and rejoiced summer after summer since 1966. Baseball may have never happened in Bristol. But someone gave a gift. A simple gift - a baseball field. The giver of the gift didn't want anyone to know his name.
One summer day in 1966, eight to ten men drove up to the old roping pen in Bristol and began to work. After two days of hard work they vanished leaving behind a baseball field complete with backstop and stands.
Most folks didn't know how it had happened. And that's just the way Harry Emerson Jansen wanted it. 'I don't want anyone to know where this came from,' he told Roy Lewis of Bristol. 'You can tell them after I'm gone.'
Local citizens had been trying to raise money for a field and had even done a little work with the limited funds they had accumulated but this was one of those little miracles that somehow go unnoticed by the majority.
Harry Jansen died July 18, 1997.
The field in Bristol was dedicated and named in honor of Jansen early last summer. Kevin Lewis, president of the Bristol Athletic Association, erected the new sign stating the new name 'Jansen Field' last week.
According to Dan Jansen, son of Harry, his great-grandfather had immigrated to the United States from Denmark and began making furniture. He first settled in West Columbia, Texas but allergies led him north to Dallas.
Dan's grandfather was a general contractor in Dallas. Among his accomplishments is the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Dallas.
Harry followed in his father's footsteps as a general contractor. He built about 40 schools in Dallas including W.T. White, Carter, and Spruce High Schools.
On the morning of the dedication last summer Dan said he was nervous and wanted to get it over with.
He said he walked over to the backstop that his dad had erected 34 years ago and noticed that the wire was bent. He said he knew that the bent wire represented thousands of baseballs and softballs beating against it.
He said he wondered how many games had been played on the field.
He said he thought to himself, 'What a simple gift.'
Then he added, 'We need to stop and be thankful for the simple gifts of life.'
Yes, Dan it is a simple gift, a simple gift that has touched a multitude of lives.