Springer helps unveil refurbished kids' field
HOUSTON -- Astros World Series MVP Award winner George Springer headlined a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, commemorating the opening of a newly refurbished field designed especially for Houston-area kids.
The building of the field, located at SpringSpirit Baseball Complex, was a joint effort between the Astros, The Scotts Company, The Home Depot, Major League Baseball and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.
"This is all about the kids," Springer said. "It's about them having a place to go and enjoy themselves as kids. I'm glad the community has a place like this to come and enjoy a great sport."
Springer visited with many of the young ballplayers who will use the new facility, and then he stuck around to offer tips and lessons during a youth baseball clinic that took place on the refurbished field.
After answering a half-dozen questions from the kids about his unique haircut, Springer encouraged them to use the field as often as possible, and to make sure they have fun while doing so.
"Sports has had a great impact on my life," he said. "It has a way of being therapeutic. I want every parent and kid here to understand that baseball is just a game. Softball is just a game. But every time you step onto this beautiful field here, enjoy it. Have fun. Get dirty. Dive in the grass and the dirt."
SpringSpirit Baseball is a Houston nonprofit that serves youth age 4-17 and their families in an under-served area of North Spring Branch. The refurbished field is part of a sprawling seven-acre campus, thanks in part to The Home Depot and The Scotts Company as part of the national field refurbishment program.
"When these families and these kids see our star player here, when they see MLB and our community putting money back into this program, it's a tip of the cap to all of you parents and all of you kids that you guys are doing the right thing," Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan said. "The rest of the city is noticing, and we're proud of you."
"We've been blessed in so many ways, so many times," said SpringSpirit co-founder Kenny Baldwin. "You look at this field, and you go, 'Wow.' Many kids have a lot of bad hops in life, but there are no bad hops here at SpringSpirit."
MLB and Scotts, a longtime league sponsor, began the Scotts Field Refurbishment Program prior to the 2016 season to provide kids with modern, playable ballfields in communities around the U.S.
"We're so proud to be part of the SpringSpirit family," Astros Foundation executive director Twila Carter said. "They are working with the kids and youth, but really, they're working with families. They provide so many opportunities for such great things for these kids. I look here, and I see the future Springers and Altuves right here in the crowd."
"We hope the work done at SpringSpirit Baseball Complex will impact the area and provide youth access to the game and to the valuable lessons that go along with being part of a team -- to learn what it means to earn history and invite team spirit to become tomorrow's leaders," Scotts district marketing manager Philip Authement said.
Also attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony was Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who said that in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the best way to elicit cheers from Houstonians was to simply say, "Houston Astros."
"There's one image I want to leave with you," Emmett said. "You know how many kids that are going to run back to that fence and jump up into that fence pretending they're George Springer? That's what's going to happen here. This is a great day. The kids are going to be beneficiaries for days to come. Harris County's proud that this is part of our county."