It’s only eight miles on State Route 374 from the old mining town of Beatty to the eastern boundary of Death Valley National Park, which is mostly what Beatty is known for, now that the mines have closed.
If there were announcers for eight-man high school football, they would also say that Beatty has a proud football tradition. Sonny Lubick, the former Colorado State coach whose name is on the field up in Fort Collins, started his coaching career here. Somebody told him roses bloom year-round in Beatty.
Nobody mentioned the torrential downpours around the Fourth of July.
Beatty isn’t known for torrential downpours, but it received them this year, and the monsoon rains washed all the new grass seed from the football field.
It was too late to plant more seed.
Beatty still has its proud football tradition, but it doesn’t have a field on which to play, because the 50-yard line at the Home of the Hornets now looks a lot like the eastern boundary of Death Valley National Park.
At first, there was talk about moving the football games to Pahrump or Tonopah. Beatty is 73 miles from Pahrump, 94 from Tonopah. Too far to drive, said the parents. Besides, you can’t have homecoming at Tonopah, because Tonopah is home of the Muckers.
Beatty is home of the Hornets. The Hornets should play in Beatty, the parents said. Maybe they could play in the city park.
The city park wasn’t an option. Too small. But the baseball field directly across from the football field is just big enough to accommodate an 80-yard field, all that is required for eight-man football, and two 10-yard end zones, and maybe some place for Jerry Adcox, the Voice of the Hornets, to set up a portable generator for a public address system. Or a large megaphone.
Gary Flood, the Beatty High principal, went out and measured the baseball field himself. Dale Norton, superintendent of the Nye County School District, drove over from Pahrump with his own tape measure.
Yes, the friendly man who showed a visitor around a football field that had been washed away by rain is named Flood.
He said playing football on the baseball field may not be the ideal situation, but that’s where the team usually practices, anyway. Plus, it sure beats driving to Pahrump or Tonopah.
“They can watch from the (outfield) fence,” he said of the parents and townspeople for which the football games are a social event. “I think it’s a good place to watch. I remember one time we had a track meet and a baseball game going on at the same time, and I stood at that fence and watched both.”
Flood said bleachers from the football field will be moved to the baseball field, so not all Hornets fans will have to stand along the outfield fence. There won’t be lights or a scoreboard clock, so home games will start after school this season, and time will be kept by the referees on the field.
A letter was sent to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association up in Reno. A letter was sent back to Dale Norton, Nye County Superintendent of Schools.
What about goalposts?
Oh yeah. The goalposts.
You can’t play football without goalposts, so an order was placed for some. Er, one. At almost $2,000 per copy, goalposts ain’t cheap.
“We’ve ordered the portable goalpost that will be placed at the west end of the field,” said Norton, who moonlights as an NIAA football and basketball referee. “If they need to kick and they’re at the wrong end, they’ll just go to the other end.”
Again, perhaps not the ideal situation. Again, definitely better than driving to Pahrump or Tonopah.
Beatty plays a nine-game schedule; this season it has only four home games. Plus, next Friday’s season opener against Big Pine, Calif., will be played at Big Pine. So that will allow an extra week to prepare the baseball field, plant the portable goalpost and receive final NIAA approval before the home opener against Spring Mountain on Sept. 12.
Superintendent/line judge Norton said the baseball field will incorporate a small portion of the baseball infield, giving it that old school NFL look and charm, from when pro football in many cities was played on baseball diamonds.
“It’s just a small part of infield red dirt that we’re going to loosen up, “ he said. “But I’m with you. The Oakland Raiders played on (a skin infield).”
That goalpost wasn’t cheap, Norton said, but he doesn’t disparage the parents and townspeople for not wanting to play in Pahrump or Tonopah, or a schedule consisting of all road games.
“The bottom line is it’s going to be in the community. It won’t be ‘Friday Night Lights,’ because it’ll be 3 o’clock, but it’s still a football game at home, and there’s four of ’em, and you’ve got homecoming, and you’ve got all those things. So good for them, and I’m glad we could get it worked out.”
Before I got back in my car, principal Gary Flood said thanks for coming out. He also saw where I was walking and told me to watch my step.
Off to our right, five burros were grazing on a plateau overlooking the remains of the Beatty High football field.
They looked sort of fat.
There were clouds in the sky, but they didn’t appear to be rain clouds.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.