Infield upgrade gives more kids chance to play at Gendell Family Field

April 23rd, 2024

The P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy received a critical upgrade to its first-class facility with the addition of a synthetic infield for Gendell Family Field.

Ten years after the original construction of the facility’s jewel diamond, Gendell Family Field has now been upgraded with highly durable, low-maintenance turf. The Gendell family and additional members of the Reds ownership group -- the Williams, Sargent and Fath families -- helped underwrite the changes which will allow for more games to be played, regardless of weather. The new surface also allows boys and girls of all ages to utilize the stadium field, which was only available to older boys’ baseball teams previously due to the 90-foot basepaths and permanent clay mound. The upgrades were unveiled during a ceremony on April 20.

Cincinnati Reds

Among those in attendance at Saturday’s rededication ceremony were Reds CEO Bob Castellini; Reds president and COO Phil Castellini; two principal Reds owners Joe and Judy Williams; Reds shareholder Jeff Gendell; Reds pitchers and ; and Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Bronson Arroyo.

“Having grown up in Cincinnati, my father worked at P&G, and all seven of us kids graduated high school here, so it was a place where we had our roots,” Gendell said. “I really wanted to have a field that meant a lot to the whole family, and being inside of a P&G complex was a perfect place.”

When the Academy was nearing completion in 2014, it was still short of a stadium-style field and it appeared that a regular diamond with traditional bleachers would have to suffice. But with one phone call, Gendell immediately got involved and the jewel field of the complex was born: Gendell Family Field.

Now, a decade later, the Reds Community Fund (RCF) approached Gendell, and once again he stepped up to the plate. He made a matching gift to the project while also bringing the Gendell Family Foundation and other members of Reds ownership on board to raise the nearly $500,000 required to rebuild the ball field.

Jeff Gendell: “I really wanted to have a field that meant a lot to the whole family and being inside of a P&G complex was a perfect place.”Cincinnati Reds

“I was kind of proven wrong, because being the purist that I was, I insisted on having an all-grass field,” Gendell said. “And now I see with the amount of play on the field that it’s very important to keep the field working and keep the kids on the field, and [synthetic] turf was the obvious way to get that done. It's a beautiful field so it’s great to have the kids out here feeling like they’re almost playing in a big league stadium with the Reds logo out there.”

Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Bronson ArroyoCincinnati Reds

The facility remains one of the best of its kind, even as it approaches its second decade. Phil Castellini challenged the RCF then to maximize the usage, promising the Reds would provide a backstop of support.

“As we stand here today, 10 years after the inception of this project where we set out to do something best-in-class, we’ve made continuous improvements to the outdoor facilities here,” Phil Castellini said. “It’s all about keeping the games being played on these fields, and it’s remarkable what a difference a synthetic infield makes. But this is also about legacy. This is a family game, a generational game.”

Colerain High School and Wyoming High School faced off at Gendall Family Field.Cincinnati Reds

That sentiment was on display following the ceremony when the field hosted a varsity baseball game between Colerain High School and Wyoming High School. Gendell, a Class of 1977 Wyoming graduate, has seen close friends send their kids through the Wyoming baseball program decades after they attended. And during this trip, he brought his son, Matt, with him to experience what it’s like to see part of his family’s legacy and witness firsthand how Cincinnati supports its community.

“I get to come back all the time, so it’s great to have my kids come back and get to see where I grew up,” Gendell said. “What’s really fun about today’s game is having my high school play at the game, so I’m very appreciative.”

Wyoming defeated Colerain, 8-7, to remain undefeated, adding another special element for the Gendell family. Later that evening, Jeff and Matt Gendell presented a $200,000 check to the Reds Community Fund prior to the Reds vs. Angels game, celebrating their second decade of commitment to the Reds Community Fund’s extraordinary home.

(L-R) Charley Frank, Jeff Gendell, Matt Gendell and Phil CastelliniCincinnati Reds

“Projects this significant don’t just happen,” RCF executive director Charley Frank said. “Since 2006, this ownership group has helped us achieve incredible community outcomes. This is another example of how fortunate we are to have such tremendous, committed leadership.”