Saturday, September 16, 2000

Deluxe ball diamond funded

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Years of dreams became a reality when the Hamilton Community Foundation announced Friday that it will fund a new baseball diamond at the Booker T. Washington Community Center.

        The state-of-the-art diamond, expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take about a year to complete, will be shared by the community center and Miami University-Hamilton. The foundation will also pay for bleachers, new fencing, additional parking, upgrades to the Little League and T-ball fields and tennis courts, a new soccer field and landscaping. The foundation will also establish an endowment for future capital needs.

[photo] | ZOOM |
        “It's a big project. It represents a need,” said Dave Belew, president of the non-profit foundation's board. “We think it will be appreciated by the community.”

        Vaughn Lewis, who coaches a Little League team at the community center's field, said the new diamond and improvements to the grounds will help keep youths off the streets.

        “It opens up opportunities for the kids to become more skilled in baseball so they can play in high school, which means they have the opportunity to play college baseball for scholarships,” Mr. Lewis said.

        “If you just look at it from a tourism standpoint, by having that kind of field, we can entertain other cities by bringing tournaments to Hamilton,” he said.

        Victor Davis, executive director of the community center, said the diamond will help with revitalization efforts in the area surrounding Booker T. Washington.

        “This has been a disenfranchised community for many years,” Mr. Davis said.

        Former Reds pitcher and current broadcaster Joe Nuxhall said he hopes the youths take pride in the new diamond.

        “So many times you see facilities built, and in three or four years, kids actually tear them up,” he said. He participated in groundbreaking ceremonies for the diamond.

        Last year, the Hamilton Community Foundation awarded $3.3 million in direct grants to arts, recreation, social services, health, civic projects and educational organizations.

        In addition to the baseball diamond, the foundation is funding two other “legacy gifts” in recognition of its 50th anniversary next year. They are: the complete restoration of the old American Legion Building in Veteran's Park and a bronze sculpture of Lentil and his dog, characters in Robert McCloskey's children's books, which will be placed in the yet-to-be-built park at High Street and Riverfront Place.


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