Antioch Little League Vice President Dennis Felix was listening to KNBR back in October when he heard a commercial for a program called TLC for Kids Sports, which offered a contest to renovate a Bay Area youth sports field. Felix, knowing that the areas around the fields were in poor shape, figured he’d at least take a shot.
Much to Felix’s surprise, Antioch Little League’s fields at 10th and O streets were chosen. The organization, in conjunction with TLC for Kids Sports, held a ceremony before opening day on Saturday, showing off the new facilities. About a hundred Little Leaguers dressed to the nines, as well as parents and coaches, welcomed the improvements.
“It was getting unsafe for our families to walk around the complex and it made it harder for our Challenger families to maneuver around,” Felix said. “When we heard it and found out that we were the winners, it left me speechless. We knew we were going to be able to create a better place for everybody.”
The changes, courtesy of the Berkeley-based contractor O.C. Jones & Sons, as well as a bevy of sponsors, included a complete repaving around the complex, new dugouts, backstops and bullpens, better bathrooms, a fresh coat of paint and two picnic areas. Work started in mid-February and finished in late March.
This is the second such project for TLC for Kids Sports, which has also renovated the Eastridge Little League field in San Jose.
Felix noted the repaving was necessary for its Challenger League, a group of about 40 young special-needs athletes. Parents said it was difficult for players in wheelchairs to get around.
Maria Pettit, mother of 17-year-old Dillon Pettit, a member of the Challenger A’s, was in awe of the new benches in the dugout and the greater accessibility. “It’s wonderful for our community; we needed the help,” Maria said. “We have grass, it’s painted beautiful and there’s a place for us parents to sit and watch our kids.”
The ceremony was loaded with fanfare and led by KNBR morning show host Brian Murphy. Special guests included former San Francisco 49ers tight end Brent Jones, the vice president of TLC for Kids Sports, and Vicky Galindo, a member of the U.S. softball team that took the silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Both motivated the young players with warm memories of their Little League experiences.
Tom Menasco, founder of Antioch Sports Legends, talked about how much Antioch Little League has meant to the city, mentioning Gene “Butch” Rounsaville, the first local Little Leaguer to make it to the majors, and Aaron Miles, now an infielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The improvements also put a smile on the face of Ryan Mohammed, who plays for the Braves Minors team. “It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “It’s a big difference.”