3/22/2013 12:40 P.M. ET
First eight Astros Community Leaders youth fields open in Houston
Celebration of Astros Foundation and local corporate champions' $18 million, five-year investment in youth baseball and softball programs for at-risk youth
By / MLB.com
HOUSTON, TX - The Astros Foundation, together with three of the team's Community Leaders- Schlumberger, Halliburton and Calpine- will open eight newly revitalized Houston youth baseball and softball fields on Saturday, March 23 and Saturday, April 6. Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane, President & CEO George Postolos, city officials and company representatives from Calpine, Halliburton and Schlumberger will attend the field reopening celebrations with youth teams at Sunnyside, Diez and Moody Parks. Also attending the youth teams' Opening Day cermeonies over the two-day celebrations are Astros alumni Jose Cruz, Jimmy Wynn and Bob Watson; team mascot Orbit and other team executives.
"Providing safe, thoroughly renovated fields and stronger youth baseball and softball programming in disadvantaged neighborhoods can make a big difference in the lives of our city's kids- from improving their health and connecting them with strong role models, to increasing their sense of teamwork, respect for others and providing other vital life skills," said Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane. "The Astros are proud to partner with Mayor Parker and the generous corporate champions participating in the Community Leaders program to make this important investment in Houston's children and our shared future."
The newly refurbished fields are all at city-owned parks. All reconstruction and additional safety features are being paid for through the Community Leaders program and completed at no cost to taxpayers.
"The Calpine team is very excited about supporting this community project. Indeed, our employees got a head start by building and donating bicycles and holding a bike safety rally at Minute Maid Park last December for the Moody Park Little Leaguers, and we are looking forward to seeing the results of their bicycle 'conditioning' work as they take to the field this spring," said Calpine's Chief Executive Officer. "It is a privilege to be able to help Houston kids enjoy playing ball on renovated and well-maintained fields while learning about competition, teamwork and the benefits of staying healthy and fit."
"Schlumberger is very excited to be a Community partner in this program, " said Paula Harris, company Director of Community Affairs. "Our community outreach and engagement is heavily focused on youth and health. This program allows us to continue to invest in the communities in which we live and work. This will be a long and productive partnership with South Central Little League and with the Houston Astros."
"The Halliburton Charitable Foundation is honored to support the future of Houston through the Community Leaders program," said Beverely Blohm Stafford, Director of Corporate Affairs for Halliburton. " We know that kids will not only enjoy baseball and softball on these fields, but will also be learning important life skills, which makes this program a win for everyone."
"The Astros' Community Leaders program is providing a tremendous service to Houston's young people at no cost to our taxpayers," said Mayor Parker at the Community Leaders launch. "As a former softball player, I know this program will be successful in encouraging young people to play, and I applaud the Astros and the corporations participating in this program for their community spirit and generosity."
The three separate field celebrations mark the completion of the first phase of the Astros Community Leaders program's five-year, $18 million investment in city-owned public youth baseball and softball fields in disadvantaged areas of Houston. The Community Leaders initiative was jumpstarted by Astros Chairman Jim Crane shortly after he and his partners took over the Houston Astros last year and is in collaboration with the City of Houston, eight Houston-based corporations and the Astros Foundation, the official team charity.
Construction at the first eight ballfields began with groundbreaking at eight fields in the fall of 2012, and the second phase of construction at additional fields at Ingrando Park (Pecan Park, sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas) and Melrose Park (Northside, sponsored by National Oilwell Varco) has already begun. Jim Crane and Calpine executives will attend the second day of field celebrations at Moody Park, sponsored by Houston-based Calpine, on Saturday, April 6. Additional fields will be renovated over the course of the five year program. These revitalized public youth baseball and softball fields serve thousands of at-risk youth in Houston.
In conjunction with the team charity's other cornerstone program, the Astros Urban Youth Academy, the Astros Foundation is also developing additional programming to serve the youth teams who play at these parks, including baseball and softball clinics with the Astros current players and alumni and UYA instructors, donated equipment and special events. The youth teams partnering with the Community Leaders program will receive tickets to Astros games at Minute Maid Park. The Houston-based corporations in the Community Leaders program will also participate in occasional community service projects at the fields with their employees and other programming, led by The Astros Foundation, at the fields throughout the year.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.