SYCAMORE — Paige Collie couldn’t believe it.
As her father, Trevor Collie, pulled his van up to Founders Field last Saturday morning, the Sycamore family found a baseball near the foul line.
“She got all excited,” her father laughed.
It wasn’t just any baseball, but the 210th baseball the family has found this year.
Every Saturday and Sunday morning, Collie pitches batting practice to 8-year-old Paige and his 5-year-old son, Davis, usually at Founders Field on Airport Road in Sycamore. Since his kids are starting to get older, and since baseballs run about $4 each, Collie decided to see if they could find any lost balls to add to their collection.
Scouring a number of local fields, the trio has found 210 baseballs, 61 softballs, a number of golf balls and even a football.
Among the cornfields and prairie grass near the skateboard park at Katz Park in DeKalb, Collie said they found 14 softballs one day and 12 another.
“I guess no one wants to look for them,” he said.
He calls the area behind the softball field at 4 Seasons Sports in Sycamore “a treasure trove.”
Combined with all the other balls the family already had, including Whiffle balls, Collie figures they have close to 500. Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather last weekend, the family decided to hit all the balls at one time.
“Every ball we find is worth 100 swings,” Davis Collie said.
Davis, who played coach-pitched baseball with the Durham Bulls in Sycamore last spring and the Wasco Red Sox in the fall, said baseball is his favorite sport.
“When I hit the ball, it feels fun,” he said.
Of the two sports, Paige said she prefers baseball to softball, which she played in Sycamore in the spring and Lily Lake in the fall.
“When my dad throws a baseball at me, I feel I’m part of a game,” she said. “But when he throws a softball, I don’t feel anything.”
Paige said the family keeps most of the balls in four bags in their garage.
Weather permitting, Collie said he hopes to pitch to his kids at least five or 10 minutes at least twice a week, in his own driveway if nothing else.
“The driveway seems to work fine,” he said.
Although she thinks it’s “cool” to find so many balls, Paige has some advice for those who lose them.
“The people should count all their baseballs before they play a game and then try to find them,” she said.
Last spring, when the family was visiting the Quad Cities where Trevor Collie grew up, they scooped up some dirt from the field. This summer, during a blue moon, they sprinkled the dirt on the Sycamore baseball field.
“I told the kids that overnight, when the blue moon comes out, the dirt will magically mingle together so when they hit the high school teams, they will be playing on the same dirt their dad played on for years,” Collie said.