Scotts, MLB announce 2020 grant program

December 11th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- On Tuesday, Major League Baseball and The Scott Company LLC introduced the 2020 Scotts Field Refurbishment Grant Program, an initiative that improves ballfields in communities of need throughout the country.

Olympic gold medalist and MLB youth softball ambassador Jennie Finch and former Phillies All-Star Ryan Howard were introduced as ambassadors for the program, which provides quality, safe playing spaces and encourages boys and girls to get outside and keep playing, whether that be organized baseball and softball leagues, pickup games, home run derbies or simply games of catch.

The program is entering its fifth season and has, to date, renovated over 20 youth fields across the country with $1.5 million of support.

"I know firsthand what a field means and how it can translate into better human beings," Finch said at a press event at the Winter Meetings hotel headquarters in San Diego. "Yes, it's about playing a game, being active, but it's so much bigger than that. It's learning those life lessons, such as discipline, sacrifice, teamwork, so many gifts that this game brings through fields.

"To be able to provide a safe place for young kids to be able to go out and play this game, I'm all in."

MLB and Scotts, a longtime league sponsor, began the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program before the 2016 season to provide kids with modern, playable ball fields in communities around the U.S. Not only is the Scotts Field Refurbishment Program part of the company's larger Gro More Good initiative to improve children's health and well-being through increased connection to greenspaces, but it is also an official partner of MLB's Play Ball initiative.

Howard recalled the somewhat poor quality of the fields he played on as a kid growing up in St. Louis and noted how important it is for kids to be able to hone their skills on a well-manicured turf.

"Playing on some of the local fields and going back and looking at those fields as I progressed from being a little kid all the way up through high school ... we didn't have grass," he said. "We had dirt, a lot of dirt on the infield. And then we had some kind of rugged grass in the outfield. It was one of those things where you just had to protect yourself at all times."

The Scott Refurbishment program aims to provide a better environment for kids growing up playing the game in more modern times.

"I think it's important to give the kids this platform," Howard said. "Give them the area and the opportunity to be able to go out and succeed and also live your dreams, be able to play on the same kind of turf and the same kind of field that you might see a hero like Jennie Finch playing or watch your favorite Major League Baseball player playing on. It gives you that confidence to be able to try and go and succeed at the next level."

Applications for the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program can be submitted now until Jan. 31, 2020, at Winners will be announced in early spring and project work will start to take place shortly thereafter, throughout the spring of 2020. A blue ribbon panel including Finch, Howard, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and executives from MLB and Scotts will determine the four grant recipients.

The Scotts Field Refurbishment Program will provide grants of products and services, including infield sod, that each have a collective value of up to $50,000 to four organizations with ballfields in need of renovation. To be considered, applying organizations must provide programming to youth in underserved areas across the U.S. In addition to the grant, Scotts will host a field-opening event with special guests.