HOUSTON, TX - The Astros Foundation and The Friedkin Group celebrated the opening of two newly revitalized Houston youth baseball fields this morning at Hidalgo Park, 7100 JW Peavy Dr., Houston, TX 77011. Astros President of Business Operations Reid Ryan joined The Friedkin Group President Marc Watts, Gulf States Toyota President and GM Marty Collins, The Friedkin Group VP, Community Affairs and CCO J.C. Fassino, Astros Executive Director of the Astros Foundation Twila Carter, Magnolia National Little League President Arturo Salas Jr., and other team officials for the field opening festivities. Astros manager Bo Porter, Astros catcher Carlos Corporan, Astros alumnus and community outreach executive Jose Cruz, players and coaches from Magnolia National Little League and Astros mascot Orbit also attended the festivities.
"We are honored to work with a great community champion like The Friedkin Group in renovating these public ballfields for the kids who play on them," said Jim Crane. "We know the lessons kids learn from baseball -- like teamwork, and perseverance and respect for others -- are lessons that will last a lifetime and extend far beyond the baseball diamond. We look forward to hosting the kids at Astros games and providing clinics and other special events with our players, alumni and Astros Foundation staff throughout the year. "
"I've seen the positive impact baseball has on kids," said Astros President Reid Ryan. "The Community Leaders program is a great gift to the city of Houston, and the Astros are grateful to The Friedkin Group for ensuring that all kids can enjoy and learn the game on safe and welcoming ballfields."
The Astros Community Leaders program is investing $18 million in city-owned public youth baseball and softball fields in disadvantaged areas of Houston over the course of five years. Jumpstarted by Jim Crane, the Community Leaders program is run by The Astros Foundation, the official team charity, and is a collaboration with Mayor Annise Parker, the city of Houston Parks and Recreation Department and up to 12 Houston-based corporate champions. The reconstruction and safety features added to the city-owned Hidalgo Park ballfields were paid for through the Astros Community Leaders program and completed at no cost to taxpayers.
"The Friedkin Group is honored and excited to partner with the Astros Foundation as a member of the Community Leaders program," said The Friedkin Group's President Marc Watts. "We have a history of supporting youth initiatives and believe strongly in the benefits of exercise, family involvement, and the education gained through sports participation. We are very proud to help bring this opportunity to Hidalgo Park and the surrounding Magnolia Park community."
Reconstruction at the first Community Leaders ballfields began in 2012, and with the addition of the two newly renovated fields at Hidalgo Park, 18 fields have been renovated through the Community Leaders program. Construction at additional fields is already underway. These revitalized public youth baseball and softball fields serve thousands of at-risk youth in Houston.
"We are honored to partner with the Astros Foundation and The Friedkin Group in helping to ensure our kids have safer fields," said Arturo Salas, Jr., President of Magnolia National Little League. "Hidalgo Park now looks like a real field of dreams. We are very grateful for this generous gift to our community."
In conjunction with the team charity's other cornerstone program, the Astros Urban Youth Academy, The Astros Foundation is also developing additional programming to serve the youth teams that play at these parks, including baseball and softball clinics with the Astros current players and alumni and UYA instructors, donated equipment and special events. The youth teams partnering with the Community Leaders program will receive tickets to Astros games at Minute Maid Park, and the Houston-based corporations in the Community Leaders program, including The Friedkin Group, will also participate in occasional community service projects with their employees and other Astros Foundation-led special events at the fields throughout the five-year program.
About The Friedkin Group:
Founded by Dan Friedkin, The Friedkin Group is a privately held consortium of businesses and investments primarily in the automotive industry. The diverse portfolio of affiliated companies is anchored by Gulf States Toyota, one of the largest Toyota distributorships in North America. Based in Houston, The Friedkin Group employs over 2,100 associates across a multitude of disciplines in a high-performing, accountable culture supported by its values.
ABOUT THE ASTROS FOUNDATION:
The Astros Foundation is the official 501(c)(3) team charity of the Houston Astros. We seek to harness the passion of baseball fans in Houston and surrounding areas to support our cornerstone charitable programs, including Community Leaders, the Astros Urban Youth Academy and the Astros RBI league (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities). Our strategic focus is youth baseball and softball programs serving at-risk youth. We welcome volunteers and tax deductible donations, which can be made in honor or in memory of a loved one as well as corporate donations or matching gifts. For more information, please visit www.astros.com/foundation.