Friday, Sep. 07, 2012
PAL's moneyball: Community is the winner in $20,000 baseball field contest
By Thaddeus Miller / email@example.com
A $20,000 makeover will polish the Seventh Street baseball diamond into a gem of a facility for the city -- thanks to an online contest that rallied the community.
"I'm shaking, I'm excited," said Police Activities League officer Noah Jones. "I'm all excited."
The PAL officer said he received word Thursday morning that Los Banos was chosen from the top three finalists to receive the $20,000 Junior Giants Buster's Ballfield Makeover. According to contest rules, the winner was to have been announced Saturday. The good news arrived two days early, much to Jones' delight.
Los Banos residents came together for a worthwhile cause, Jones said, by casting the most votes in a Facebook contest that ended Monday. Though Los Banos had the most votes, the decision still had to go through a committee of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. and the Giants Community Fund
Jones said waiting for the call was nerve-wracking.
"And, of course, my phone (was) ringing because everyone wants to know the answer," Jones said on Wednesday.
The organizers will officially name Los Banos PAL the winner in a ceremony featuring Jones on Saturday at home plate in AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The second- and third-place parks, according to the contest's Facebook page, were Enslen Park in Modesto and Nolan Park in Cottonwood.
The contest promises to refurbish the PAL diamond, on Seventh and E streets, by adding new dirt, reseeding the field, painting adjacent buildings, adding new bases and refurbishing the dugouts.
Jones said organizers told him they would try to get Posey to the park after the work, for an opening ceremony, but "there's no guarantee," he said.
With or without the makeover, Jones said the contest proved Los Banos can band together to support the community. The Seventh Street diamond consistently held the No. 1 spot since the contest started in June.
"It's been a positive thing and it's brought the community together," he said.
Since all of the voting was done through Facebook, Jones said, PAL coaches and players had family members from out of the state voting regularly.
The Seventh Street park has four fields, which all get used every day other than Sunday during the season.
According to the contest entry, PAL has offered the Junior Giants program at no charge to children from 5 to 13 years of age since 1991. About 450 participated in this summer's baseball league, and softball drew more than 330. The Seventh Street fields are used from about March to November.
PAL also runs programs for flag football and tee ball.
"I'm glad we got the answer we worked so hard for," Jones said.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.