The Scotts Company LLC (Scotts) and Major League Baseball today announced the creation of a new blue-ribbon panel and grant program that will improve five different youth baseball/softball fields around the country in need of refurbishments and renovations. Repairs and upgrades totaling more than $250,000 in value across the United States will be made during the spring of 2018. Two-time World Series champion David Ross, the new Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program Ambassador, made the announcement from New York this morning.
"Baseball gave me some tremendous experiences, starting with friends and fun times when I was young, so I know how important it is to make sure kids have places to play," said Ross, who retired after winning the 2016 World Series with the Chicago Cubs and is now an ESPN baseball analyst. "I'm really honored to be part of this new panel to help find communities that can use our help and need refurbished playing fields. It's great to see Major League Baseball and Scotts continually support youth with PLAY BALL and other initiatives like the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program."
MLB and Scotts, a long-time 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. This program is part of Scotts' efforts as an official partner of the 'PLAY BALL' initiative, MLB's 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 its first two seasons, the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program has renovated a dozen fields with nearly $1 million of support.
"After seeing the immediate effect these field refurbishments are having on kids in their communities, we wanted to find more areas that could use our support," said Josh Peoples, Vice President and General Manager at Scotts. "We always want to encourage as many young people as possible to get outside and play ball, so with David's help and the rest of our panel, I believe we can do just that."
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 five 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 ribbon-cutting ceremony, organize a youth baseball clinic with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and donate new equipment to the local youth leagues.
"We consistently evaluate our initiatives to ensure they are effective and promote as much positive change as possible through our game," said Tony Reagins, Senior Vice President, Youth Programs, Major League Baseball. "This field refurbishment program with Scotts has already helped a number of communities in recent years and will continue to give young baseball and softball players beautiful, safe places to play."
Applications for the Scotts® Field Refurbishment Program will be accepted Oct. 1 - Nov. 15, 2017 at MLB.com/scottsfield, with project work to take place in the spring of 2018. A blue ribbon panel of judges, including Ross, Scotts executives, MLB leadership and others, will determine four of the five grantees. The fifth winning field will be decided by a final fan vote on social media, after finalists are selected by the blue ribbon panel.
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