PLAINSBORO, N.J. – A five-year-long fight came to an end Tuesday night when the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District Board of Education voted to rename High School North Baseball Field as David J. Bachner Baseball Field.
The board voted in favor of the name change by a 6-3 margin.
The field will be renamed in honor of decorated West Windsor-Plainsboro North High School baseball star David Bachner, who died suddenly in August 2009 of cardiac arrest.
Community Middle School, where the meeting was held, was filled with supporters of the Bachner family, with a majority of the participants donning black T-shirts featuring the Bachner name on the back along with David's retired No. 16. The front of the shirts bore one word: "UNHITTABLE."
Throughout the night, parents and children told stories of David Bachner and how he touched the lives of everyone he came into contact with.
“After David died, the stories came out,” Steven Bachner, David’s father said. “The things that he did were incredible. He would give the shirt off his back and in some cases he literally did. Even more than that, he was the kind of kid who just had an infectious smile. It never changed.”
Former baseball head coach Bob Boyce was the one who originally raised the possibility of the name change with a letter to the board of education. He offered his support Tuesday night.
“The naming of a field or gymnasium is a very significant thing,” Boyce said. “When I provoked that letter, it had nothing to do with his death. I felt like he best represented what it means to be baseball player.”
Those opposed to the re-naming of the baseball field were also given a chance to speak Tuesday.
Kurt Baker was the father of former West Windsor-Plainsboro student Kenny Baker, who committed suicide around the same time Bachner died. Baker feared that suicidal students who saw that David Bachner was being immortalized for his death would lean toward taking their own lives. Baker cited research that says it is important not to glamorize the death of a student with the renaming of a facility.
“I’m doing this as a 'possibly' matter, Baker said. “Your job as board members is to protect the students’ best interests. Now that you know the facts, there is no information supporting the other side of this argument.
“If you feel compelled to act on an emotional level, then you must abstain from voting. If you feel like voting regardless of the facts then you must resign from the board.”
Regardless of the research Baker brought forth, the vote still went the Bachners' way.
David Bachner committed to Seton Hall University to play baseball prior to his death. In his senior year, Bachner posted a 9-2 record and a 0.97 ERA. Seton Hall issued the Bachner family a commemorative Big East championship ring when the school won the conference tournament in 2011.
Now, with Tuesday's vote, David Bachner’s legacy is fully cemented at West Windsor-Plainsboro high school.
“It hasn’t totally sunk in,” Steven Bachner said. “We never started this campaign. It was started by people who didn’t even know David. It is somewhat of a closure on this chapter. David was a phenomenal kid.”