Build it and they will come -- even a half-century later.

In the summer of Apollo 11's moon landing and the rise of the Miracle Mets, 14 boys from Hilliard banded together to form the first Hilliard Colts travel team of the Hilliard Baseball Association.

Fifty years after that summer of 1969, six of those 14 players rejoined to the celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Colts and of Alt Field, Hilliard's own version a Field of Dreams that today still is the home for Colts games and other HBA teams.

"It was big-time stuff (and) just great fun," said David Herring, 62, of Columbus.

Herring, a 1974 graduate of Hilliard High School, was the catcher on that first Colts team.

He and the other boys were recruited by Harold Butt, the father of another of the first team's players, Doug Butt, 61, of Hilliard and a 1976 graduate of Hilliard.

Doug Butt played second base for the Colts.

"He just grabbed the best 14 kids he could find who he knew would be committed to the season," Doug Butt said of his father, Harold, the head coach of that first team and for whom the HBA has since named an annual memorial tournament.

Although the Colts were considered a travel team, with the exception of a tournament in Plain City, the team was host to all its games during what the six members recalled as an 11-11 season.

"Playing (at Alt Field) was an event," said Ernie Robertson, 62, of Dublin, a 1975 Hilliard graduate who played shortstop.

Robertson and the other five players reminisced May 5 about the electronic scoreboard, the covered dugouts with concrete steps, the manicured grass and bright baselines, and perhaps most significantly, a press box from which resonated a booming announcer, "now batting ..." followed by their own names.

Each of the six original players, paired with a current HBA player as an escort, was introduced in a pregame ceremony at Alt Field on May 5 before the current Colts team took the field for a game.

Players from other teams in the decades since stood on the first and third baselines.

"It was truly a community effort," said Mike Hull, whose father, Marion, was commissioner of the HBA when Alt Field opened.

Mike Hull, 62, of Mechanicsburg is a 1975 graduate of Hilliard and a retired lieutenant of the Norwich Township Fire Department.

Numerous individuals and organizations contributed to the construction of Alt Field and the players weren't overlooked, either.

"We had to pick up any rocks we found after every game," said Hull, who was an outfielder for the Colts.

Other first-year players recognized May 5 were Jim Conrad, 62, of Worthington, a 1975 Hilliard graduate who third base, and Mark Shier, 62, of Dublin, a 1975 Hilliard graduate who was a pitcher and outfielder.

Mark's son, Pete Shier, a 1999 Davidson graduate, played eight years in the Baltimore Orioles' organization and one in the Philadelphia Phillies' system, rising to the Triple-A level.

Also present May 5 was Sheree Alt Ziemba, the sister of Mike Alt, for whom Alt Field is named.

Mike Alt died from cancer at the age of 12 in 1966. He played in the HBA before to Colts when it had three leagues: the Mosquito league for 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds, Little League for 11- and 12 year-olds and Pony league for ages 13 and older.

While most of the Colts played one or perhaps only two seasons for the Colts, many of the players continued as teammates on the Hilliard varsity team in high school.

The reunion was organized by Jami Oyster of Hilliard, whose maternal grandfather was Marion Hull.

"My uncle (Mike Hull) was already friends on Facebook (with some of the original players)," said Oyster, who went to work on finding the rest.

Thirteen of the 14 players of the 1969 team survive and Oyster made contact with nine, she said.

A seventh player was expected to attend but dropped out, and two others live out of state, Oyster said.

Two of the three who did not attend live out of state and four whom she believe were members did not respond, Oyster said.

"I wanted to do something special for their 50th," Oyster said.

Kevin Yankovich, the current commissioner of the HBA, said it is unusual for a travel team such as the Colts to survive a half-century.

"Travel teams pop up and fold, but the Colts have endured. ... It was great to honor them."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo