MESA, Ariz. -- When Deanna Scabby was a young infielder, the lights at Lehi Ballfield were so dim that families would park their cars around the outside of the field and shine headlights at home plate so games could continue after dark.
On Sunday, Scabby stood before members of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and her fellow Lehi District Council Representatives as a field dedication took place for the newly renovated diamond located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
"I look around and see the changes that have taken place, and it's beautiful," said Salt River Indian Community vice president Martin Harvier. "The parents in the crowd are probably asking, 'Why didn't it look like this when I played here?' But that's why we are here. This is for our future and for our kids."
The field renovation in the Lehi district of Salt River is the first field project among the partnership between the two big league franchises that worked together to build a joint Spring Training facility in 2011. The award-winning complex has been routinely named as the best in all of Major League Baseball and has record-setting crowds come each year to watch the annual rite of passage that is the Cactus League. Fittingly, the field dedication took place just two days before the D-backs' first game, which will be held at Salt River Fields on Tuesday against Arizona State University.
While Spring Training in Arizona dates back to 1929 and the Cactus League officially began in the 1950s, baseball has been played at Lehi Field for nearly 50 years, but never on a diamond as nice as this.
"Each and every day, we live by the five main areas of our 'Circle of Success' and two of them are evident here today -- culture and community," said D-backs president & CEO Derrick Hall. "It is so wonderful for us to be a part of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and we thank them for their partnership. We have to make sure children continue to play the game of baseball and are fans for life and we want to give them the best fields possible to play on."
Hall praised the Rockies for creating a field-building program in Colorado that has been replicated by the D-backs in Arizona. He was joined at the event by D-backs special assistants Luis Gonzalez and J.J. Putz, chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, current D-backs pitcher Bronson Arroyo, D-backs broadcaster Steve Berthiaume and several team executives. Rockies owner/chairman & CEO Dick Monfort was accompanied by reliever LaTroy Hawkins and a cadre of Colorado players for the ceremonial event.
Monfort emphasized the point that while the partnership with the D-backs started as a Spring Training facility, it has turned into much more -- a way to genuinely help the community.
Josh Rawitch is the senior vice president of communications for the D-backs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.