By Edwin Folven, 7/28/2011
Dodgers Dreamfield Opens at Pan Pacific Park
Children in sports programs at Pan Pacific Park had their dreams come true last Saturday at the unveiling of a Dodgers Dreamfield, a renovated baseball field with a new backstop, dugouts, infield and scoreboard.
Approximately 75 young athletes attended the grand opening ceremony, and participated in batting, catching and fielding clinics led by former Los Angeles Dodger players such as Kenny Landreaux, Wes Parker and Tommy Davis, as well as current Dodger pitcher Javy Guerra. Other attendees included members of the Dodgers administrative staff, Dodger broadcaster Charley Steiner, and City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th District, who said the new field is a wonderful addition to the community.
“Athletics is the opportunity and the attraction, but education is the goal, and this field will be an attraction for young players.” LaBonge said. “I am very proud of the young athletes and am very proud of the history of this park. There’s nothing like Pan Pacific Park and there’s nothing like baseball. We are very fortunate to have this great new facility right in the heart of the Fairfax District.”
The new baseball field at Pan Pacific Park is the fifth Dodgers Dreamfield built so far this year, with 19 planned for parks throughout the city in 2011. The team has an overall goal of renovating 50 fields, according to Howard Sunkin, senior vice president of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The funding for the renovations comes from the Dodgers and the LA84 Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises money and distributes funding generated from the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
“The Dodgers organization, the Dodgers Dream Foundation and the LA84 Foundation are committed to you kids,” Sunkin said. “We had this idea of building the Dreamfields, and by the end of this year, we will have nineteen. But we thought about it and said, ‘let’s take this program of a handful of Dreamfields and build fifty’. The money used is a direct result of the money raised at the summer games of 1984.”
All of the young athletes in attendance received a free Dodgers t-shirt, with Jackie Robinson’s number 42. Sunkin said that was appropriate because of the role Robinson played in breaking the color barrier and integrating sports. Some of the Dodger alumni in attendance, including Tommy Davis, said Robinson was an inspiration to play the game.
“I grew up in Brooklyn and saw Jackie when he was there, and when I saw Jackie, I knew I wanted to play baseball,” Davis said. “The Yankees gave me a little more attention than everyone else, though, including the Dodgers at that time. I could work out at Yankee Stadium whenever I wanted, and I was going to sign with the Yankees. Al Campanis [of the Brooklyn Dodgers] would come out periodically to look at the players. I was going to sign with the Yankees next Tuesday, and he had Jackie Robinson call me on the Sunday before that. I was overwhelmed, and I signed that Tuesday with the Dodgers.”
Other members of the Dodger organization, including Steiner, said that it is important to remember Robinson at the opening of a new ball field in the community.
“He was an American hero and a legend, who began as a baseball player,” Steiner said. “He should be an inspiration to future generations.”
Jon Kirk Mukri, general manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, added that the new Dreamfields are making the city’s parks a better place to play.
“The Department of Recreation and Parks has a long history of working together with both business and non-profit partners to bring improved services to the communities and residents of Los Angeles,” Mukri said. “We will do whatever it takes to continue our steadfast commitment to promoting youth sports and active lifestyles through athletic activities. The re-building of these fields is a big step forward in achieving our collective goal of providing youth a safe and clean place to play.”
LaBonge added that he hopes more people will take advantage of the Dreamfield.
“The Los Angeles Dodgers are the greatest, and this is a great gift to the people who use Pan Pacific Park,” LaBonge added. “It will enhance the enjoyment of baseball and softball here for many years to come, so let’s play ball.”
Tags | Dodgers Dreamfields