MLB, Rox renovate Denver Boys & Girls Club

July 13th, 2021
Photo courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver

Mr. Met threw grounders to a line of kids while Astros mascot Orbit soft-tossed to hitters and Clark the Cub worked from the mound, throwing pitches to Bernie Brewer. For members of a Metro Denver Boys & Girls Clubs branch, it was a morning to remember.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Rockies owner Dick Monfort joined leaders from Boys & Girls Clubs of America to unveil a refurbished Andrés Galarraga Field at the J. Owen Churchill Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver on Tuesday morning. The final All-Star Legacy Program project of 2021 in Denver took place in the Westwood neighborhood four miles southwest of Coors Field and was the culmination of a week that saw MLB and the Rockies donate millions to local and national community and charitable organizations.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Boys & Girls Clubs of America being the official charity partner of Major League Baseball. Denver’s roots with the organization go back even further, with Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver opening to its community in 1961. The partnership has grown on both sides.

“I think it has been successful because we pursue, fundamentally, the same goals,” Commissioner Manfred said. “Both the Boys & Girls Clubs and baseball want kids to have a safe place to go. We want them to have an opportunity to participate in athletics.

“We prefer that athletic participation to be baseball, but we’ll take whatever we can get,” he added with a smile.

Tuesday’s unveilings not only included the refurbished playing field but also upgrades to the club’s interior tech and teen centers along with social spaces in the form of new couches, computers, paint and carpeting.

“Who would’ve imagined a year ago that we would be gathered for this joyous presentation here today in person?” said Erin Porteous, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. “As I reflect back on what’s been regarded one of the most challenging and tumultuous years for us, I’m humbly reminded that one of our greatest resources of strength, courage and resilience has come from the smiles, the laughter and even sometimes the tears of our club members that have been coming every single day.”

All the new resources are already going toward helping the Owen branch to fulfill its mission, which continued last year even as schools closed during the pandemic.

“The club’s going to be here opening doors,” Porteous said. “It’s going to be here to dismantle barriers, and it will be here to create opportunities. Here in Denver, we wouldn’t be able to create that goal and to create our mission without the support of Major League Baseball, the Colorado Rockies and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.”

After Tuesday morning’s speaking engagements ended, dozens of area kids took to the field with MLB mascots to pitch, hit, run, throw and have fun.

“We’ve been extremely focused over the last few years on youth participation,” Manfred said. “We love when the Boys & Girls Clubs project is a renovation of a field like this because it provides an opportunity for kids to participate in our programs like the RBI [Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities] program or the Play Ball initiative that you’re going to see here today.”

For Monfort, Tuesday was the continuation of a longstanding relationship in his own life. Monfort grew up north of Greeley, Colo., and went to an area Boys & Girls Clubs branch for “all my sporting activities for four or five years.”

“It is a perfect giveback for the Colorado Rockies and Major League Baseball to give kids a safe place to go after school, a safe place preferably to play softball or baseball, but we’ll take whatever we can get,” he said. “This is an incredible branch run by incredible, passionate people. We couldn’t be more blessed to have adopted this great facility.”

Since its launch in 1997, the All-Star Legacy Program has enabled MLB and host clubs to donate over $95 million toward community projects and national charitable organizations. This year, MLB and the host Rockies have contributed approximately $5 million to the greater Denver community and beyond through the Legacy Program.