Angels break ground on All-Star fields
Team helping to give special-needs kids place to play
ANAHEIM -- All-Star festivities have already begun, as Major League Baseball, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the City of Anaheim broke ground Wednesday on the MLB and Angels All-Star Complex at Pioneer Park.
"It's our pleasure to have an opportunity to make an investment in the community," said Angels owner Arte Moreno, who attended the ceremony with his wife, Carol. "These are some of the bonus things we get to do with the city and ourselves hosting the game. MLB makes a large contribution and we get to put it back into the community and to areas we've been supporting, and it just enhances what we are doing with the Angels Foundation and the community."
"We talk about the All-Star Summer giving everybody an All-Star experience," said Major League Baseball executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan. "This is the lasting legacy of the All-Star Summer that will keep giving and giving and giving to the community. So I make the case that this is the most important thing we do with an All-Star week."
The project, which is a part of the "Going Beyond" charity and community service theme for the 2010 MLB All-Star Summer in Anaheim, will consist of the reconstruction of a youth baseball and softball field and the construction of a new Miracle League Field, which will provide opportunities for special-needs children to play baseball. Both fields will be supported by The Scotts Company, which recently was named the "Official Lawn Care Company of Major League Baseball."
"This field will be renovated and used as a little league field for many, many clubs here in the valley," said Kristy Frank, who with her husband, John, created Magical Builders, a nonprofit organization formed with the mission of unifying people to advance the well being of children and their communities. "The Miracle League is an amazing organization, and we're proud to build that field for children with handicapped disabilities in the sense of wheelchairs and walkers, and they'll be able to play baseball and softball, as well."
One of the moving moments from the ceremony was when a wheelchair-bound 10-year-old named Laio Kobayashi spoke to the people in attendance about how excited he was that a Miracle Field was being built.
"Today is a very special day for me," said the young man representing the Miracle League of Orange County. "I get to talk to you about this amazing field. This field will allow kids with all disabilities to play baseball the way they want to.
"I can't believe we will have the opportunity to play on this field. It is just amazing that they made this possible."
Brosnan, who spoke after Kobayashi, paid him a compliment.
"Laio, I don't know if you know it. You just made it on Major League Baseball's scouting list," said the executive. "Someone with your drive and determination will definitely find a place in our organization. We're gonna keep our eye on you."
Another person who was happy about the new fields was former Angel All-Star Chuck Finley.
"Some of my best memories are of kids playing on grounds like this," Finley said. "I think once this park is built, some kid will walk up to you and tell you a wonderful story that started right here -- that changed his life -- and he'll have stories to share with his kids, and his grandparents and everybody for the rest of their lives."
All-Star Weekend is still over four months away, but the miracles are already starting.
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.