A Johnston County mother has decided to restore a sign that commemorated her late son to a baseball field where he once played.
Amy Spence said she will also offer an apology to the local athletic association, which was stung by criticism from the community after her effort to have the sign restored became public.
The sign, which read “The Brandon Spence Baseball Field,” once hung above Field 2 at the Greater Cleveland Athletic Association complex behind the old Cleveland Elementary School. Brandon was 14 when he was hit and killed by a truck while trying to cross N.C. 50 on his dirt bike in 2009.
“The bottom line is we wanted the sign back up, and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to have the sign back up,” Spence said Tuesday.
The family noticed the sign was missing in July and asked the Greater Cleveland Athletic Association what happened to it. They also requested it go back up.
For days, no one knew for sure what had happened to the sign. Some speculated it was removed. The GCAA says that after investigation, it was determined that the sign was destroyed in a storm in late 2014 or early 2015.
Spence said she worried when she didn’t receive a response in a timely manner and posted on Facebook asking for help in her search for answers. Many in the community rallied around the family.
Last week, the GCAA’s board met with Spence and her family and told her she could pay to replace the sign under certain conditions. Board members also accused her of bullying by starting a social media campaign against them.
Spence defended herself at the meeting, saying it was not her intentions to be harmful. In hindsight, she said Tuesday, if she had to do it over again she would approach it differently.
“Social media is intended to reach out to people, and I was trying to reach out to the board and to people who knew board members that may know what happened,” Spence said. “Did I ever intend for it to turn negative? Absolutely not.”
To replace the sign, Spence and her family must:
▪ Have the sign read “Brandon Spence Field,” dropping baseball from its name.
▪ Keep the sign no larger than its original size – 4 by 8 feet.
▪ Pay to restore and maintain the sign.
▪ Have the design approved by the board of directors.
▪ Have the sign go in the outfield as it was before.
▪ Coordinate with the GCAA president a yearly field workday during the beginning of each year to help maintain the field.
When reached Tuesday evening, GCAA board of directors president Michael Knott said he had not received word from the Spence family yet.
“If her wishes are to replace the sign, hold an annual event and offer a public apology then that is good,” Knott said. “I look forward from hearing from her and moving forward.”