Imagine a Better St. Louis: Transforming a field in need - KMOV.com

Imagine a Better St. Louis: Transforming a field in need

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Imagine a Better St. Louis: bringing a baseball field back to its former glory. (Credit: KMOV). Imagine a Better St. Louis: bringing a baseball field back to its former glory. (Credit: KMOV).
DELLWOOD, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

In a city that’s been called baseball heaven, kids get to be kids on diamonds across St. Louis, but in North St. Louis County, rioting and racial tensions over the past few years have pushed the once beloved game into the shadows.

“These ball fields have pretty much just been worn away over the years,” said Marvin Crumer, Public Services Director for Dellwood.  

He is referring to a stretch of grass at Dellwood Park that is barely recognizable as two baseball fields. The wear and tear on the city goes far beyond the empty fields.

“If you remember back in 2014, this area was badly damaged with civil unrest,” said Norman Mann, St. Louis County Police Captain.  

Two years after the rioting that followed Michael Brown’s death in 2014, a stretch of West Florissant is making a comeback.

“I think energy is coming back. Kids are looking for outlets and we just want to provide those kids with those outlets,” said Crumer.

There’s no better place for that than a baseball field. The problem, though, is it was overgrown and uneven.

“As you look at this field, it’s not really that playable,” said Mark Galentine, Vice President of Sports Turf Managers Association. “With a lot of dangerous spots for the kids, a ball could bounce up and hit them ad injure them.”

But by 4 p.m. on September 14, that will change because local businesses, schools, and county police are teaming up to turn the field in need into a field of dreams.

“They were excited to help. There wasn’t one person who has to think about it. It was ‘How can we help?’ and ‘What do you need?’” said Galentine, who is helping lead the change.

The group has already started prepping the field for the one-day makeover. They set the foul poles, outlined the infields, and sprayed the grass. Before September 14, they will laser grade the ground to literally create a level playing field.

“It will be like the kids are playing at Busch Stadium,” said Crumer. “They see a nice field and it brings excitement to them. They will have a wall up where they can hit it over the wall and it just brings excitement back.”     

This project will not end with a few youth baseball games. The Police Athletic Association will also call the field home.

“The premise of the whole program is to build interactions between police and the youth,” said Captain Mann.

Officers will be out on September 14 helping do the leg work. They have already spent months calling around town to get donations and equipment.

“We work in this community. A lot of us live in this community. So we should have a role in this community,” said Captain Mann.

Organizers are still working to find a day when the PAL baseball team can take on a local youth team.

Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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