July 24, 2004
Shelby Hanea, 8, knows the value of a good neighborhood ballfield.
She went to the Friday morning unveiling of the Valley’s latest "Diamonds Back" Little League field, at the Chandler Boys and Girls Club where she’s watched her 6-year-old brother Dalton play many times.
She’s not a player, she said. "I like to watch a little, yeah, but not on TV," she said. "I like it when it’s, like, happening."
There was a lot happening Friday as the club at 300 E. Chandler Blvd. celebrated the transformation of its baseball field from a sandlot to Shea Hillenbrand Field.
"It’s not really that different," said Markus Kalber, 13, who played on the team Chandler sent to the Little League World Series last year and got his start at the Boys and Girls Club. "The infield’s a little bigger and the backstop’s a little higher."
A Mesa native who now lives in Gilbert, Hillenbrand gave his name and $50,000 to the project, the 15th youth field his team has built or refurbished in Arizona over the last four years in partnership with Arizona Public Service and numerous contractors.
"I got the easy job," said Hillenbrand. "I just gave money." His field is the third in the East Valley and the first at a Boys and Girls Club.
Diamondbacks president Rich Dozier said the Diamonds Back program spends around $250,000 per field building youth ballfields in economically disadvantaged areas.
He and other Diamondbacks dignitaries, including field announcer Jeff Mund and organist Bobby Freeman, were there Friday to unveil the field and its scoreboard. But the first real pitch won’t be thrown until sometime in August to allow the new sod to set, Chandler parks maintenance supervisor Kris Kircher said.