SOUTH WEBSTER — Baseball is a great game. It offers players the chance to compete against one another, to grow and harness their skills on the baseball field and to shape their demeanor off it. There’s something about the game that will always lend itself to the collective memory of America.
For decades upon decades, fathers have taught their sons how to throw a ball, the way to catch a pop-up and the thrill of finding the ball with the sweet spot of the bat. Baseball is a game that will always live on through that connection, through the memories that have been passed down for generations.
It was the same way for Daniel and Joe Basham. Daniel grew up in South Webster and was involved in as many activities as he seemingly could be. Whether it was 4-H, cub scouts, soccer, basketball, theater, or even baseball, he was always active.
He even played travel ball, which is a recreational league designed to raise the bar of competition for kids who never tire of the game of baseball. In 2003, Daniel was part of the USSSA World series in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma with the Greysbranch Yankees. It was here that his sister, Shawna, met her husband who was one of Daniel’s coaches.
Daniel would go on to graduate from South Webster in 2008. After, he decided to join the Army. He then graduated boot camp and spent 29 months stationed in South Korea.
“He came back, and spent about eight months at home,” said Joe Basham. “He came to me one day and said ‘dad, I’m going to move out west.’ I knew that he needed to start a life of his own.”
And so, with California dreams in his head Daniel set out once again in the world and moved to Long Beach, California in 2013. Shortly after, he moved to Mesa, Arizona where his life and journey ended much too early. He was 23.
“I had thought about putting together a scholarship in his memory,” said Joe. “But I worried about what would happen to the fund after I couldn’t pay anymore. And to be honest, Daniel never went to college himself. He went into the service. But he had always talked about going back to school. It’s something he never got a chance to do, though.”
Joe owns Basham’s contracting in South Webster. Last year, he was approached by the school district and asked to provide an estimate to build new batting cages. Joe saw this as the perfect way to honor his son’s memory.
“After they asked me to give them a price I got to thinking,” said Joe. “I said I would do the work for free, and that we could dedicate it to Daniel. So, I talked to some friends and many people donated money and their time and we made it happen.”
The cages took around six weeks to complete, from Early March to mid-April. Donors included Hall’s Trencher Service, Joe Lester and family, Brown Medical, Freedom Outdoors, Tammy Hale Insurance, Mullins Construction, Hanes Chevrolet, A-1 Auto Glass, Dirk Hanes, Steve Schultz Concrete, Jerry May and the South Webster Little League.
“This is the best way I could think of to honor my son,” Joe said. “Many, many kids will get to benefit from it. They will get to play baseball, something that he loved to do, and share those memories with their families.”
Now, Daniel’s memory and his love of baseball will live on through the South Webster Little League system. The memories that cemented the bond between Joe and Daniel Basham will happen again and again for other kids, thanks to the generous donations that made it possible.