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Turtle Field

David “Turtle” Gardner Jr. was an energetic, fun, and athletic young man with a big heart. He played baseball at Wilson Little League from tee-ball to the major league level. He was known by everyone, mainly because of his exuberant personality, but also because he was a six foot twelve year old. He garnered the name “Turtle”, not because of his speed, but because his mom noticed that he liked to move at his own pace. So, the name Turtle stuck with him all the way until his days at Waters Middle School.

His time at Wilson Little League was mainly spent on the major league field, where he played for the Wilson Athletics for about four years. During this time, Turtle would go on to hit ten home runs in one season. One of these home runs went over the concession stand, and onto the minor league field. The young man was only twelve years old when he accomplished this feat. He was the star player, and everyone knew it.

On March 30th, 2009, Turtle was shot when a gun that was being handled went off at a friend’s home after school. He was rushed to the hospital where he would die a day later. Turtle was loved by all of his peers because of his kind heart, and his desire to put a smile on the face of everyone he came into contact with throughout his life. Almost 1,000 people attended his funeral later that week.

Turtle’s death came a few days prior to opening night at Wilson Little League. Many of his former teammates were now playing on the junior league team. The group of boys knew that they had to do something for their late friend. With two days to plan, the young men found as many Wilson A’s hats as they could. On opening night, they walked up to the microphone, each with their own A’s hat hidden behind their backs. One of the young boys spoke to the crowd, proclaiming that they would be playing the rest of the season for their friend and teammate, Turtle. The young man continued by stating that the major league field will forever be known as “Turtle Field”. The group of boys concluded the ceremony by removing their junior league hats, and replacing them with the Wilson Athletic hats that were hidden behind their backs.

This is why the major league field will forever be referred to as “Turtle Field”.

Turtle did not deserve to die, and his parents should not have had to endure the pain of burying their child. This is why gun safety is essential. Children, as well as teenagers, should not handle a gun without the guidance of a parent or guardian with gun safety training. If you are a parent with a gun in the home, make sure that it is locked up and hidden away from your children at all times. By doing this, we can prevent another situation like Turtle’s from ever happening again.

Rest in Peace, David “Turtle” Gardner Jr. 

Written By Robbie Bradshaw April 2017

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