||DBYAL Opens Field of Dreams
The Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League recently opened two Major League caliber Little League baseball fields, which 500 boys and girls from one of Durham’s most impoverished communities will call home. On Saturday, May 1st at 10:00 AM, the Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League’s Field of Dreams project opened as the youngsters who have played on dusty, rock-hewn fields for the past 10 years will get to play ball on fields that rival any of the top Little League facilities in the country.
The project’s roots were planted in 2000, when Adam Grossman and Jared Weinstein, then Duke University sophomores, began working with the League as part of a class assignment. They expanded a classroom required project and turned it into a personal mission. After two years of persistence and countless hours spent in their grant writing pursuit of funding for the League, they secured two grants totaling more than $145,000 from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, the joint initiative between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
“I’m in awe of what these two Duke students were able to accomplish,” DBYAL co-founder Herb Sellers said, “Their work has paid tremendous dividends that will help make a difference in our youngsters’ lives for years to come.”
The fields will sport some of the finest grounds keeping in Little League. Durham Bulls Athletic Park head groundskeeper Jimmy Simpson has made the grooming and maintenance of the fields a personal mission. Located near the intersection of Liberty Street and Hyde Park Avenue, the new fields are equipped with dugouts, bleachers, scoreboards, and lights for night games. Many suburban Little Leagues have first class playing facilities. Until now, the Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League did not. To Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League players, the opportunity to call two beautifully manicured neighborhood baseball fields “home” seemed like an impossible dream.
Other contributions came from the Durham Bulls Parent Company, Capitol Broadcasting Company; a challenge grant from the Grossman and Weinstein families; a contribution from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and a recent substantial commitment from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. In addition to cash and in-kind donations, Capitol Broadcasting Company gained the support of Bovis Construction, the contractors managing the company’s American Tobacco Warehouse urban revitalization project in the heart of Durham. Bovis and the other contractors working on the American Tobacco Warehouse project have donated valuable in-kind services that range from an irrigation and drainage system, to electrical equipment, to dugout and bleacher construction.
“This is a story that Disney movies are based on,” Durham Bulls General Manager Mike Birling said. “To think two students and their parents could rally so many different companies and people together for this cause has been truly inspiring.
Thanks to DBBC’s Matt DeMargel for this capcom story.