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Jadie Frazier was one of the best athletes to ever come through Henry County. He averaged 32 points per game as a senior at Henry Central High School in 1959; he was a starter and double-digit scorer for the University of Louisville; he competed for the U of L track team; he was a star pitcher in fastpitch softball up until the age of 50; and he was inducted into the Louisville ASA Hall of Fame.
But his greatest accomplishment could lay on a piece of land just off of Bardstown Road in Louisville. There, sitting directly behind an old school building turned into an antique mall, is Frazier’s Ballpark.
The family-operated softball field was officially opened in 1984 and has seen thousands of games during its 25-year stretch. More than 700 games are played there each year, including action six days per week in seven separate leagues during each spring, summer and fall season.
“I started playing softball at a young age so it was natural that I wanted to run my own field,” said Frazier, a retired school teacher and coach who currently lives in New Castle but built a house at his field in Louisville. “We’ve had so many games on this field over the years, and we still have people from all over come here to play.”
Frazier’s love for sports can be traced back to his playing days in Henry County as an athletic teenager with either a basketball or softball in hand. He started playing basketball in the fifth grade for New Castle Elementary School at a youth tournament in Sulphur. As for fastpitch softball, which was once the norm for males before it morphed into the slowpitch version seen today, Frazier got his start as a 12-year-old in Campbellsburg. He more than excelled in both.
Before Henry County High School was opened in 1962, Frazier played basketball for Henry Central all four years of high school, averaging 17 points per game as a sophomore, 27.5 as a junior and 32 as a senior. He was named All-District, All-Region and All-State, and signed with U of L following the 1958-59 school year. While at Louisville, Frazier led the freshman team to a perfect 14-0 season with a team-leading 20.9 points per game, and started the next three seasons for the Cardinals with a high of 13.9 points per game as a junior before a knee injury slowed him down.
Basketball was where he made a name for himself, but it was on the softball fields that he really shined. He pitched and played first base, traveling to tournaments all over the country. His final game came in 1989 when he was still whizzing the ball by batters as a 50-year-old.
“I was getting ready to pitch in the state tournament and while I was warming up I pulled my groin muscle,” Frazier remembers 20 years later. “My team was undefeated up to that point but we ended up losing that game because I couldn’t stretch out when I threw the ball. After that, I knew it was over for me. It took me a year and half to recover from that pull.”
Of course Frazier could not just give up the game completely. After all, he had a field to attend to.
Following his time at U of L during the 1960s, Frazier started to operate softball fields and leagues. He was the director of one softball field off of Dixie Highway, while also directing a softball field for the Parks Department behind an old building that was once the Hikes Grade School. That piece of land was where he would build his dream field, and eventually build a home for him and his wife Shirley.
“I heard that the Parks Department was going to stop a league on the land, so I asked them if I could take over,” Frazier said last Friday afternoon, while looking over the same land he transformed to what it is today. “I was already running the field off of Dixie Highway, and that was just tough doing both for a long time.”
In 1984, about seven years after Frazier started working games for the Parks Department, the land went up for sale. At first, the old building and land were merged together as one item to bid on, but Frazier talked them into surveying the land into two lots and splitting them into separate sales. Frazier then put in a bid that was $500 more than he expected it to go for, then added an extra $1,000 just to make sure he got it. It was his.
The old building also sold, and is now used as a successful antique mall
Within five years, Frazier had turned the piece of land into his very own field of dreams. He perfected the dirt infield, put up a fence, added dugouts, a concession stand, buildings, lights and bleachers — the wood for the bleachers came from a sawmill off of Drennon Road in Henry County. He also put in a playground, volleyball court, and at one time had a game room.
Then, in 1986, he moved his family into a house he built just behind the field on the same lot.
At one time, when Frazier was more energetic, he had two different leagues per day. One would start at 9 a.m. and the other would start at 6 p.m. The morning session was for third-shift factory workers, who would leave work at 8 a.m., grab a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant, then show up at the field for game time. Meanwhile, Frazier had to wake up at 6 a.m., get the field ready, work games through 2 p.m., get the field ready again, and start games again at 6 p.m. that lasted through the night. Then, he would wake up to do it all over again. He eventually decided it was too much and stopped the morning league.
Now, there are seven men’s leagues going on at once. Two leagues are played on Sundays, and one league Monday through Friday with Saturday’s off. Since Frazier lived in the house by the field up until January — his son Tim lives there now and takes care of the field — Frazier’s Ballpark was always ready to be played on, and usually the only field around the area that played on days that it rained.
“As soon as it stopped raining, we would get out there and get it ready,” Frazier said. “Because of this we had few delays or cancellations. When guys are playing just once per week, they don’t want to miss a game. We try our best to get them in.”
While running the field and playing softball himself on most weekends, Frazier was also a school teacher and coach. He taught at Trinity High School, Iroquis High School and Barret Middle School, where he retired in 1994. He was an assistant basketball coach at Trinity, head basketball coach at Iroquis and head basketball coach at Barret. He also coached track.
Frazier and Shirley had two sons — Tim and Jim, who have five children between them. Shelby is an upcoming junior at Henry County High School and plays on the softball team, Kori attends Jefferson Community College, and Michael, Ryan and Megan live in Ohio. Shelby and Kori, whose dad Tim lives in the house to take care of the field, both work softball games, keeping score and helping get the field ready to play.
“It was a family thing from the beginning,” Frazier said. “My mom helped work there, my wife helped, my oldest son’s wife helped and now my grandchildren help. I’ve had a lot of help from them along the way.”
E-mail us about this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Frazier’s Ballpark, call (502)459-3306.