COOK COUNTY, IL – A coalition of public and private sector partners today unveiled the first youth baseball field in the Village of Ford Heights.
The field is the culmination of years of collaboration among the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Cubs Charities, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, James McHugh Construction Co., the Ford Heights Park District and numerous other partners seeking to improve after-school activities in one of the nation’s lowest-income suburbs. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office serves as the village’s local police department, and Sheriff Thomas J. Dart has long worked to improve services and opportunities for residents.
“Prior to this field, these kids had to travel miles away to play baseball. Thanks to everyone who came together and put in more than a year and a half of work, the children of Ford Heights now have a field of their own and this community, that has seen so much hardship, has a symbol of hope that it deserves,” said Sheriff Dart.
Ford Heights residents first formed a youth team in 2014, but the team would have to travel to neighboring, wealthier suburbs to play, which hampered local involvement and increased the cost for participation. Since then, the Sheriff’s Office, local leaders and outside partners have worked together to quadruple the number of players while also building a local field.
Funding for the field and team expenses included the following generous contributions:
- The Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a joint initiative between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association granted $153,000
- Cubs Charities Diamond Project granted $47,000
- MLB player Jason Hammel donated $11,000 he won in charity contests
- James McHugh Construction Co. served as pro-bono construction manager and donated $5,000 to the Ford Heights Park District
Additional contributions include construction assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and compost biosolids from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, as well as construction and maintenance assistance from Sheriff’s Office job training and community service programs. Members of the Sheriff’s Police donated gently used baseball equipment to the team.
“On behalf of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, we are honored to partner with Cubs Charities, LISC, Jason Hammel and the Ford Heights community on this much-needed project,” said Cathy Bradley, Executive Director of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. “We appreciate the community’s commitment and hard work to offer a quality youth baseball and softball facility and hope that the field provides opportunities for young players to learn and enjoy the game for years to come.”
“Through our Diamond Project grants, we’re able to reach communities across 14 Chicago neighborhoods, helping youth foster a love for diamond sports,” said Cubs Charities Chair Laura Ricketts. “The $47,000 Diamond Project grant to Ford Heights will allow kids to play every day.”
“When we learned about the project, we were moved by the innovative approach Sheriff Dart’s team was taking to revitalizing the Ford Heights neighborhood,” said Mike Meagher, Senior Vice President for McHugh Construction. “Our work centers on building communities, and we are grateful to have helped construct a baseball field that will strengthen a deserving community and provide an outlet for youth development for years to come.”
Construction finished in time for the Ford Heights teams to play part of their summer season at home. About 55 kids played this season on five Ford Heights’ teams, up from 10 kids and one team in 2014.
“This field will stand for years to come to help our children learn baseball and important life lessons about teamwork and success,” said Ford Heights Park District President George “Kirby” Green, who is also a league coach. “We are overwhelmed by everyone’s support for our village and our children.”
The newly constructed baseball field stands proudly as a regulation-size youth baseball field for play up to the Bronco Division (11 and 12-year-olds) and is located at 1160 12th Street, near the intersection of 12th Street and Lexington Avenue.
About the Baseball Tomorrow Fund
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) is a joint initiative between the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball designed to promote the growth of youth baseball and softball throughout the world by awarding grants to support field renovation and construction projects, equipment and uniform purchases, coaches training material and other selected program expenses. Since its formation by the MLBPA and MLB in 1999, BTF has awarded more than 1,000 grants totaling over $32 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia. BTF also facilitates league-wide initiatives including the collection and distribution of new and gently used equipment to organizations in need as well as field maintenance education clinics. For more information, visit baseballtomorrowfund.com and follow BTF on Facebook and Twitter.
About Cubs Charities
Cubs Charities harnesses the passion of Cubs fans to improve the lives of children and families across Chicago and beyond. Cubs Charities’ goal is to provide increased access to sports opportunities and target improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk. Through grants to quality nonprofit programs, development of parks and baseball fields, and other community initiatives, the Cubs and Cubs Charities help fulfill a commitment to be the best in the game, on and off the field. For more information, visit www.cubscharities.org.
About LISC Chicago
LISC Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier. Part of the national nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, LISC Chicago provides grants, loans, technical assistance and other resources to more than 70 partner organizations in low-and moderate-income communities across Chicago. When neighborhoods are connected to the right resources and work together to advance robust, coordinatedcommunity development plans, they are better positioned to participate in the region’s economic growth. For more information visit, lisc-chicago.org.
The goal of the Cubs Charities Diamond Project is to expand opportunities for children to play baseball and softball, create or preserve green space in underserved neighborhoods and to foster a love of the game. Through the Diamond Project capital improvement fund, Cubs Charities provides resources to nonprofit, neighborhood-based organizations, to support projects that enhance the quality, safety and accessibility of local baseball fields or indoor training facilities with the technical assistance of LISC Chicago.
About McHugh Construction
Since its founding in 1897, James McHugh Construction Co. has earned its reputation as a builder of landmark, one-of-a-kind structures in Chicago and across the Midwest. Specializing in high-rise concrete construction and complex, large-scale projects for both private and public sectors, McHugh has built some of Chicago’s most iconic structures such as Trump Tower, Aqua Tower, Blackstone Hotel and Navy Pier’s Centennial Wheel. The company’s mission has always been to promote a seamless and positive project experience with excellence and innovation. It is known for its unwavering commitment to its clients, its ability to deliver exceptional results on time and within budget, its dedication to growing and developing partnerships with subcontractors and its steadfast pursuit of building stronger communities in the markets in which it operates.