Olympic Gold Medalist and MLB Youth Softball Ambassador Jennie Finch and MLB legend Ryan Howard this week joined The Scotts Company LLC (Scotts) and Major League Baseball to announce the 2020 Scotts Field Refurbishment Grant Program. The announcement was made at Baseball's Winter Meetings in San Diego with Finch and Howard. Entering its fifth season, the Scotts Field Refurbishment Program improves ball fields in communities of need by providing quality, safe playing spaces and encouraging boys and girls to get outside and keep playing, whether that be organized baseball and softball leagues, pick-up games, home run derbies or simply games of catch.
"I was lucky to play on some of the best fields in the world during my time with USA Softball, but traveling around the country as a parent and instructor, I've seen first-hand the need to improve field conditions for future generations of players," said Finch. "I'm so happy that I can help Scotts and MLB continue this effort. Hopefully it leads to countless hours of fun for kids around the U.S. and I cannot wait to see some of them in action!"
Applications for the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program can be submitted now until Jan. 31, 2020, at MLB.com/scottsfield. 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, Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and executives from MLB and Scotts will determine the four grant recipients.
"As a baseball player, one of the best feelings every day was arriving at the park, seeing the fresh-cut grass and running out there with your teammates," said Howard, the 2008 World Series Champion and three-time All-Star. "Kids everywhere should have that same opportunity in their local communities, so I'm thrilled that Scotts and MLB have developed this much-needed initiative. I'm looking forward to hearing from all the communities that need our help and deeply encourage anyone who thinks their field can use our support to apply for these unique grants."
MLB and Scotts, a longtime league sponsor, began the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program before the 2016 championship 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 Scotts is also an official partner of MLB's 'PLAY BALL' initiative, a collective effort to encourage young people and communities to participate in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, events and casual forms of play. In four seasons, the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program has renovated over 20 youth fields across the country with $1.5 million of support.
"Making a difference in the community is something Scotts holds in extremely high regard, it's why we created this program with MLB and why it's part of the company's larger Gro More Good initiative," said Josh Peoples, Senior Vice President, Scotts. "For the grant recipients, the impact on their community goes beyond winning a new field, we're helping get more young people outside and making a lasting impact on the area youth that will stay with them a lifetime. Adding legends of those sports like Jennie and Ryan to help our efforts creates a terrific sense of community and should have an even greater impact on the communities that receive these grants next year."
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.
Grant applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:
- The ability of the grant to increase youth participation and improve the quality of youth baseball and softball programming
- The ability of the grant to enhance the lives of underserved children
- The ability of the grant to improve the local community
- The organization's ability to leverage the grant to generate more support for the field and programming