Ryan Howard has been working extremely hard to recover from his Achilles injury. Howard, Phillies first baseman, will make a big difference when he returns to the starting lineup. In the mean time, Howard is making his presence felt in the community.
In fact, there was a grand slam last week when the Fairmount Park Conservancy, in partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Ryan Howard Family Foundation and Citizens Bank Foundation, dedicated a new baseball field in Hunting Park.
The field’s $717,000 restoration is a part of the Hunting Park Revitalization Project, a long-term comprehensive plan led by the Fairmount Park Conservancy, to turn the 87-acre park into a safe and well-maintained space that provides great recreation for families and children. The project also brings the community together.
The Hunting Park baseball field is located near 10th and Cayuga Streets across from Little Flower High School. The field is nothing short of sensational. Everything is brand new. It is truly a field of dreams for many kids in Hunting Park. The Ryan Howard Family Foundation has provided a total of $150,000 toward the project. The foundation has really embraced this neighborhood.
The foundation provided the first donation to the project in 2009. In addition to this financial contribution, the foundation has given over 200 holiday meals and winter coats and gloves to the Hunting Park neighbors. The foundation has provided new uniforms and baseball equipment to the Hunting Park Indians Baseball League.
Last Friday, Howard was on hand for the dedication of the new field along with a number of public officials such as Mayor Michael Nutter, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, state Representative Tony Payton, Deputy Mayor Michael DiBernardinis, executive director of Fairmount Park Conservancy Kathryn Ott Lovell and Citizens Bank President and CEO Daniel K. Fitzpatrick. The Phillies slugger grew up in St. Louis, Mo., where he learned how to play baseball. He was really impressed with the field.
“All you have to do is take a look at the field,” Howard said. “It’s an absolutely beautiful field. It brings back a lot of memories. It’s a big field. You got to hit it to get it out of here.
“It feels good to be able to give back to the community. The kids deserve it. It’s all about the kids. We’ve teamed up with the Fairmount Park Conservancy here at Hunting Park trying to make the dream become a reality, working with the baseball field and the whole park in general. It’s a very exciting time for Hunting Park.”
Howard is one of the most community minded professional athletes in this city. His foundation really cares about the kids in this town. In December, Howard’s foundation donated Adidas athletic wear valued at $1.2 million to the School District of Philadelphia. The award allowed 57 high schools to select athletic shoes and apparel that matched the school’s colors. Four middle schools also received shoes.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to most people. Howard’s community efforts with Hunting Park, Philadelphia Public Schools and other groups haven’t gone unnoticed. A year ago, he was a nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, which honors a Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. In 2011, Howard was named The Philadelphia Tribune’s Sports Person of the Year. Howard, who happens to be one of the best players in baseball, has been made a big difference in the community.
With his latest effort, he should be a candidate again for the Roberto Clemente Award.