Baseball in the Park
Baseball & Little League Return to Palmer Park!
It’s been 15 years since Little Leaguers played at Palmer Park. That changed on April 27, 2013, Opening Day in Palmer Park, with eight Middle School teams playing ball and having a ball. The boys and girls competed for about eight hours as they kick off the season for Legends Baseball League.
It’s the first time in years that organized baseball has been played in Palmer Park, and reflects a partnership with the city of Detroit and two nonprofits, People for Palmer Park and Courageous Inc., which is organizing and funding the baseball league.
“It went over a lot better than I thought it would” with more teams from more Detroit schools playing ball this year,” said Garrett Street, the director of the Legends Baseball League. Legends grew from eight teams in its first year to 11 this second year.
“We’ve had some nice crowds out” at previous double headers last year, he said, adding he’s for a big turnout on Opening Day.
Volunteers from People for Palmer Park and other groups have worked to prepare for baseball’s return to the park along Woodward Avenue just north of McNichols.
“The hard ball diamond at Palmer Park was just given a little sprucing up” said Dan Scarsella, PFPP director of preservation and beautification. So Michigan State students in the LiveWork Detroit! program joined PFPP volunteers in painting the diamond and cleaning up part of the park earlier this month.
Eventually, PFPP wants to replace the diamond and install new lighting, since wiring was stolen by scrapers. Street and his crew are dragging and leveling the infield.
Legends League has agreed to maintain the fields this year, and will use it Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
“Don’t be surprised if you see five or six girls sprinkled throughout the league,” Street said. Legends Baseball League is sanctioned by Little League International, so its players, ages 10 to 13, will be eligible for regional and other competitions.
During its first year of baseball, Legends League’s teams played at Tindal Recreation Center and Paul Robeson-Malcolm X Academy.
The Palmer Park baseball diamond also will be used by Gesu Catholic School’s team on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.
Also on Saturday mornings, People for Palmer Park offers free yoga classes at 9 a.m. Other recreational activities in the park include tennis lessons for youth and adults, Thursday evening bike rides and free tai chi classes on Tuesdays.
For more information on Courageous, see its website: http://getcourageous.org/
Q&A on Little League Baseball in Palmer Park
A conversation with Garrett Street, baseball director, Legends Baseball League, and Lori Heinz, People for Palmer Park Recreation Committee director and board member:
Why is this a big deal for whole area that two groups are bringing baseball back to Palmer Park?
GS: “Bringing baseball to Palmer Park is huge because it allows kids to be reintroduced to a sport that has somehow lost its luster on the northwest side of town. When I was a kid pickup baseball was the norm but now you can’t even find a decent field to play on thats not overbooked.
Having a venue to play and bringing it directly to the schools will bring the culture of baseball back to a community that was once rich and vibrant. …. All the kids I grew up with played all day and stayed out of trouble because we all had a love for baseball. Today, kids grow up to fast through social media, video games, and cell phones that virtually do everything, but miss out on the fundamental right of playing outside and dreaming of being someone or doing something great!”
What are the goals for Legends League Baseball?
GS: Our main goal as Legends League is to build life skills through baseball. Courageous Inc. is deeply involved in providing all kinds of children and family services to any and all at risk kids.. We have touched over 1,000 kids through clinics, camps, teams, tournaments, and travel. They have also learned love for community by painting, picking up trash at parks, and painting over grafitti. Competition builds character throụgh hardwork and accomplishment. For some of these kids, to have an organized structured activity to participate in, it’s huge for them.
How does it work?
Legends Baseball League is organized under the Courageous Inc. nonprofit., which founder Keith Williams says provides resources so children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds may participate in extracurricular activities and sports.
They receive free uniforms, a coach and even a van ride that takes them from their school to Palmer Park for games. “It’s a lot of extra work, but we do it,” Street said, since many parents may not have cars or time to get their children to games.
The spring league is focused on teams organized through middle schools in Detroit. They can be private, public or charter schools. Many are in Northwest Detroit, but the league is eager to add others from around the city.
In the summer, the Police Athletic League, or PAL, will play at Palmer Park, also led by Garrett Street. This baseball league is not free.
Why is Palmer Park a great location?
GS: It is within two miles of eight of the 11 schools, which makes it convenient for schools and families. Football teams plague most decent baseball fields throughout the city – so having a baseball field for the kids to practice and play on is tremendous!
And being a Northwest-sider and living in this community all my life, playing a part by bringing positive activities back to this beautiful park is great. We are happy to partner with PFPP to help turn the park into a community Mecca that it is becoming.
How can I get involved? Can my team join the Legends League?
GS: The league is open to adding more teams, for spring or the summer season.
It could use a few more coaches, especially people with experience playing or teaching baseball. And since many of the teams are just getting going, donations of batting gloves, bases for practice and cleats are needed. Funds to buy other equipment, from safe bats to chalk, also are welcome. Contact Street at email@example.com if you can help.
Who pays for baseball and other free recreational activities at Palmer Park?
People for Palmer Park raises money for recreational activities through fundraisers, including the June 30 Log Cabin Day and the raffle of a Shinola Bicycle. As a 501C nonprofit group, it also accepts in-kind and monetary donations from individuals, foundations and corporations.
A variety of organizations make it possible to provide free baseball through the Legends League and Courageous. Among those in 2013 were:
UAW Region 1A,
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napolean,
Laborers Local 1191,
Wayne County Commissioner Irma Clark Coleman,
Continental Foods, and
Detroit Public Schools.
How can my team use the field? Can we reserve it for a game?
Much of the time has already been committed to three organized leagues. To find out if you can reserve the ball field at Palmer Park, contact the Detroit Recreation Department.