Play ball! Upgraded PAL field awaits dedication

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comMay 23, 2013 

There's some good news and there's some bad news.

Good news: The $20,000 Junior Giants Buster's Ballfield Makeover is complete and the diamond will open for play next week. Bad news: San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey won't be there for the christening of the Police Activities League field.

"To be honest," said PAL officer Noah Jones, "I'm a little bit disappointed he won't be there. The good thing about it is our fields are done and they look awesome."

The dedication ceremony for the PAL field is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the field on the corner of Seventh and E streets. In lieu of Posey, who is scheduled to play that day, retired pitcher Dave Dravecky will be featured in an hour-long program.

"I think it's still pretty cool," Jones said.

Dravecky, 57, is perhaps best-known for breaking his pitching arm while throwing

in 1989. He had made a comeback that year after having a portion of his deltoid muscle removed and the bone treated because of a cancerous tumor. He's since become a motivational speaker.

Giants mascot Lou Seal and Fresno Grizzlies mascot Parker are also on the docket.

There are four diamonds on the Seventh Street field, and the one in the northwest corner received new sod, a sprinkler system, a pitcher's mound and fresh bases. The makeover also paid for a fresh coat of green paint for some of the buildings.

The paint on the rest of the buildings and the layer of red clay on the other three fields came by way of PAL volunteers, Jones said.

Volunteers Rick Gomes and Manuel Zorra can be found the day before a softball game, as they were earlier this month, dragging and chalking the fields.

"I've been doing this 11 years, going on 12," Gomes said, as he drew the pitching circle.

Jones said the men are two of the 13 members of the softball steering committee who do daily maintenance.

"These 13 are my go-to people," he said.

PAL has offered the Junior Giants program at no charge to children from 5 to 13 years of age since 1991. About 440 are signed up to play in the summer's baseball league, and softball, which is winding down, drew more than 320. The Seventh Street fields are used from about March to November.

"This will also be a good time for people who don't know much about the PAL program to see where all of our activities are played during the course of the year," Jones said.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

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