NEW YORK -- There was a time when East 100th Street was tabbed by TheNew York Times as "The Worst Block in New York City." Thursday, the street officially became the outfield wall to a beautiful baseball field thanks to the Scotts Field Refurbishment Program.With the sun shining on a
NEW YORK -- There was a time when East 100th Street was tabbed by TheNew York Times as "The Worst Block in New York City." Thursday, the street officially became the outfield wall to a beautiful baseball field thanks to the Scotts Field Refurbishment Program.
With the sun shining on a picturesque day in East Harlem, Scotts, DREAM and Major League Baseball cut the ribbon on the newly refurbished Field of Dreams, which sits between First and Second Avenues from 100th and 101st Streets.
Approximately 60 youth baseball and softball players were on hand for the event, putting the field to good use as part of a clinic run by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.
"It looks incredible," said Nick Rulong, assistant brand manager for Scotts, the Official Lawn Care Company of MLB. "Driving around here, you don't see any green space at all. Then you turn a corner and all of a sudden there's this magnificent field. It looks fantastic."
MLB Network analysts Carlos Pena and Mark DeRosa were on hand for the festivities, as the former big leaguers took part in the clinic to help christen the field.
"It brings me back to my childhood growing up on the other side of the GW Bridge," said DeRosa, who is from nearby New Jersey. "For them to get a chance to come out here -- and for the field to be done right, to be usable -- is great. You see some fields that look like they haven't been dragged for years. This place is plush. These kids are going to have a lot of fun here."
Nearly 360 applications were received across 43 states, but DREAM (formerly known as Harlem RBI) was one of four recipients of a Scotts Field Refurbishment Program grant. The other refurbished fields were awarded to the United Way of Central Georgia, the Red Sox Foundation in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and the Journey House of Milwaukee.
"We want to make sure that kids -- boys and girls -- of any background, anywhere in this country, have an opportunity to get a bat and ball in their hands," said Tom Brasuell, MLB's vice president of community affairs. "There's no better place to do it than here at DREAM."
In 1991, a group of volunteers cleared an abandoned lot into a baseball field, which became known as Field of Dreams in '97. Today, it welcomes elementary and middle school students from April through October. DREAM serves more than 2,200 youth each year through its comprehensive in-school, after-school, and summer programs.
"We're throwbacks here at DREAM; we believe that baseball should be played in natural surfaces," said Richard Berlin, DREAM's executive director. "Scotts' commitment to our community and communities like it all around the country has made this beautiful place to play possible."
The boys and girls at the event were all smiles as they worked on hitting, catching and throwing during the clinic. For everyone at the Field of Dreams on Thursday, the opening of the refurbished field represented a new era for DREAM and the children that represent the heartbeat of the organization.
"This field represents hope," Pena said. "It's a place that kids can go and just be kids. For DREAM, for Scotts and for MLB, the entire program is just a beautiful thing. To bring these kids in this neighborhood an opportunity to be on a field like this to play the game they love, it's a dream come true."
Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.