Sportsman Park now home to youth field

Sportsman Park now home to youth field

ST. LOUIS -- Sportsman Park in St. Louis was the home to Major League Baseball All-Star games in 1940, 1948 and 1957 but goes unknown to many of the town's youth. That may soon change, as land near where the legendary stadium once stood has been turned into a new youth ballpark.

In conjunction with the 2009 All-Star Game on July 14, the Cardinals built a youth baseball park at the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club adjacent to the land where the old Sportsman Park stood for years.

It's part of a $2 million All-Star Legacy Fund that has been created to help inner-city kids in St. Louis experience baseball, as well as other valuable life aspects such as education, cultural awareness and mentoring.

"These community programs will allow everyone in our community a chance to experience the lasting effects of hosting the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis," said Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr.

The field's dedication on Friday morning is just one of several events sponsored by Major League Baseball in St. Louis during All-Star Weekend that will focus on raising money/awareness for charitable initiatives while also celebrating the importance of community service. As part of the community initiative, more than $5 million, including the $2 million in St. Louis, will be donated to charities across the country. The overall project, named 'Going Beyond,' will be the biggest and most extensive in Major League Baseball All-Star history.

Events in St. Louis include youth clinics, Make-A-Wish trips, field renovations and upgrades, a food drive, a Charity 5K & fun run, a Charity concert under the Gateway Arch and more. All of the events will fit in with Major League Baseball's efforts to help benefit healthcare organizations, support education programs, increase opportunities for kids to play baseball, learn to be environmental friendly and to celebrate the community service work of everyday citizens.

A full schedule of events with Major League Baseball's official charity, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, also is scheduled for various locations in St. Louis.

The new baseball field, which was dedicated on Friday morning with Cardinal Hall of Famer's Lou Brock and Bruce Sutter in attendance, will host games for the Cardinals' community relations group, Cardinals Care, as well as leagues from the Herbert Hoover club.

"Most of the time the kids have to travel from Herbert Hoover to another club or different area to play," said Cardinals Care vice president of community relations Mike Hall. "They've run into a lot of transportation problems. Now they have their own home field right by their building. It's going to be exciting."

In addition to the field at Herbert Hoover, money went towards renovations and upgrades to the Mathews-Dickey Ball-Field, which operates the "RBI presented by KPMG" program in St. Louis.

Of the $2 million dollars which will be spent in St. Louis, more than $850,000 will go to scholarships unrelated to baseball, including the College Bound program, which helps prepare students for college. The Redbird Rookies program -- the Cardinals' youth baseball program - will also award $5,000 scholarships for up to 10 of its participants to use for college.

Money will also go to a new elementary school scholarship that will support underprivileged students, kindergarten through sixth grade, at a local private school, City Academy.

And a new Healthy Kids Express program will fund a St. Louis Children's Hospital mobile van that will help bring better health care to children in the St. Louis area. Children ages 18 and under will be able to receive medical screenings, immunizations and vision, hearing, physical and dental examinations free of charge.

"We're going to celebrate what the Cardinals and the other 29 Major League franchises do around their communities, day in and day out, throughout the United States and Canada," said Tim Brosman, executive vice president of business with Major League Baseball. "Over the last decade or so, Major League Baseball really has focused on its charitable and community efforts and we've built a very strong schedule around the All-Star Week events.

"We are going to bring charitable and community celebration to a new level."

B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.