Organizations from Allentown, Chicago, New York and Oklahoma Chosen by Blue Ribbon Panel
The Scotts Company LLC (Scotts) and Major League Baseball continue to refurbish youth baseball and softball fields around the country with four more communities scheduled to receive renovations in 2019. Scotts and MLB announced the four community organizations that will receive improvements to their local ball fields through a grant initiative that is part of the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program. The Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program provides youth with modern, playable baseball and softball fields in American communities of need.
The winners of the grant program are: Allentown School District and Lehigh Valley RBI Baseball (PA), City of Wewoka, Oklahoma (OK), Friends of Ray School PTO (Chicago, IL) and Friends of Mount Vernon Arts, Recreation and Youth Programs, Inc./ the Mount Vernon Recreation Program (NY). More than $200,000 in repairs and upgrades will be made across the four fields over the coming months.
MLB and Scotts received 350 grant applications across 300-plus cities in 46 states seeking refurbishments for their youth fields. The winning organizations were chosen by a special blue-ribbon panel which included Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., six-time MLB All-Star and 2008 World Series champion Chase Utley, Olympic gold medalist and MLB youth softball ambassador Jennie Finch, World Series champion and MLB Network analyst Cliff Floyd as well as other executive leadership members from MLB and Scotts.
“As a father, I know first-hand how vital it is to have a safe place for kids to play ball in their communities,” said Utley. “I’m proud to partner with Scotts and support their Field Refurbishment Program and provide the girls and boys in Allentown, Chicago, Mount Vernon and Wewoka spaces where they can learn the game while having fun. Baseball gave so much to me, and I hope that through this program, we can have a positive impact on the lives of children.”
In addition to the grant, Scotts will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at each refurbished field as well as a youth baseball clinic run by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which will be attended by special Major League guests. A new equipment package will also be provided to each of the four Scotts Field Refurbishment grant recipients.
Ray Elementary School in Chicago is a public elementary school that serves over 700 diverse students from pre-K through eighth grade. Located in Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago, the school has suffered budget cuts over the past decade which have prevented any improvements to their baseball and softball field. Currently, no community organizations are able to utilize this outdoor space, but with this Scotts Field Refurbishment grant, the renovated field will be able to support youth leagues, summer camps, after-school programs and physical education classes. After this field refurbishment, the Friends of Ray School PTO anticipate being able to expand youth engagement in softball and baseball to more than 1,200 boys and girls from Hyde Park, Woodlawn, Kenwood and neighboring South Side zip codes.
“We are proud to continue our field refurbishment program with MLB, as they share our commitment to giving back and impacting communities across the U.S.,” said Josh Peoples, senior vice president of Brand Marketing at Scotts. “These new fields will be bright spots in their respective neighborhoods where kids can just be kids. The upgrades we’re making will ensure the area youth have a safe place to play the game they love, fueling their passion for sports and a healthy lifestyle.”
MLB and Scotts, a long-time league sponsor, began the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program prior to the 2016 championship season to provide kids with modern, playable ball fields in communities around the U.S.
This program is part of Scotts’ efforts as an official partner of the “Play Ball” initiative. The “Play Ball” initiative is MLB’s collective effort to encourage young people and communities to participate in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, events and casual forms of play. In its first three seasons, the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program renovated 20 fields with nearly $2 million of support. At the conclusion of the 2019 season, those numbers will near two dozen fields and $2.5 million.