Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield helps River Falls celebrate new turf field (8 photos) |  Baseball

Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield helps River Falls celebrate new turf field (8 photos) | Baseball

Dave Winfield was impressed by what he saw when he visited the First National Bank of River Falls Field three years ago. So impressed that the hall of famer helped coordinate a grant from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association to fund the installation of artificial turf on the court.

On Saturday night, July 17, the community of River Falls and River Falls Baseball Council welcomed Winfield to show the improvements on the court and thank him for his role in achieving a $ 850,000 grant at RFBC’s MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation Day.

The day highlighted the expanded opportunities the new turf provides on the court, starting with youth baseball and softball games in the morning, while the Hudson Booster Challenger League played with the help of the River Falls American Legion Post 212 team in the afternoon, ending with River Falls and New Richmond legion teams play at 5pm and River Falls Fighting Fish and New Richmond Miller’s amateur teams tackle the night.

During a ceremony marking the day between the Legion and Amateur Games, Curt Bruns of the River Falls Baseball Council noted that the First National Bank of River Falls Field has gone from hosting about 120 games a year before turf, to over 500 this year.

“And that includes youth baseball, softball and special needs,” he pointed out. “And anything is possible because of the work of Dave Winfield and the Foundation for Youth Development.”

The MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation is a joint initiative between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. It was created to increase participation in and expand access to youth baseball and softball and provides grants to organizations in the United States and internationally.

Winfield, a member of the foundation’s board, said he knew Bruns from their work together at another foundation, and then Bruns asked him to come and see what the River Falls Baseball Council did at the First National Bank of River Falls Field in August 2018. , it met all the criteria for what the foundation was trying to do.

“Your city just fits in with what we’re trying to do in different places across America,” Winfield said. “We have probably provided grants in 40 of the 50 states for all different levels. Some people just need a backstop. Here you needed the whole rug, so this was big. But we help people in all sorts of different ways, and I’m just glad you did. ”

After being approved for the grant in February 2019, the new turf was installed in the field later in the autumn, but an official grass commitment was delayed by a year due to the COVID pandemic until Saturday night.

Winfield, a native of St. Paul and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, played for six teams during his 22-year Major League Baseball career, including the Minnesota Twins from 1993-94. A 12-time MLB all-star, seven-time Gold Glove winner and six-time Silver Slugger Award winner, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

After addressing the crowd on the field on Saturday night, Winfield took the time to pose for photos with some of the young players who will take advantage of the expanded opportunities the square provides. He also gave a short, impromptu clinic to the youth, including showing them the right way to grab and throw a baseball.

He said he was impressed with the work RFBC has done to make the First National Bank of River Falls Field the attraction it is.

“Curt has sent me some pictures, but seeing how many people are out here is huge,” he said. “And it is still an important gathering point for this community; a gathering place if you will. And now you have increased the number of people who can play baseball here, and that is what we are looking for. So I’m very happy for you. ”

Before he left, he had one last message for the children.

“Enjoy this field,” he said. “And take care of it.”

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