In 2004, outside the canteen at the William S. Hart Pony Baseball and Softball Complex, was an American flag made entirely out of colored baseball and encased in glass.
About 10 years later, it was time for the canteen to get a facelift. In the process of building the new snack stand, a tractor damaged the flag display, which had already been weathered by the elements.
The display was taken down and traveled through many garages before it ended up at a cabinet shop in Castaic.
There were a few attempts to rebuild the flag, which included a baseball donation drive in 2014, but none were successful. Until now.
Michael Eberle, fresh off of serving three years as president and 12 years total on the Hart Pony Baseball board, had some spare time and a lot of ambition. He set out to rebuild the flag using Jeff Barrett’s original design.
“I felt it needed to be done because people had paid for the balls in 2014 and the original display was really cool,” Eberle said. “It was really pretty and it was a cool thing and I always really liked it.”
Eberle approached the board in 2017 with a proposal: If the supplies were provided, he would build it. And he planned to build it to last longer than the one before.
“I did some research on materials to come up with a way to do it so it would last longer and be able to better withstand the weather.”
Over the course of the following year, Eberle assembled strong plastic along with 354 red, white and blue baseballs and softballs – many of which were donated by Diamond – to create a 5-foot-tall, 7-foot-wide, 350-pound flag display.
On each of the baseball’s is either a signature from whoever donated the ball or the name of a former Hart Pony Baseball and Softball director.
The project was particularly personal for Eberle, who in addition to serving on the board has three sons who went through the Hart Pony Baseball program as players. One returned to serve as an umpire and another worked in the canteen.
In the future, Eberle hopes that a roof will be constructed over the display to better protect it. Until then, the flag stands brightly in the sunlight, greeting Hart Pony baseball and softball players of past, present and future.