“I guess we are a little ahead of the curve what with Cal Ripken coming to town last week to dedicate our three newest ball fields. That’s hard to top, but we’ll make certain that August is a great month for baseball in Bridgeport, too.” – Mayor Bill Finch
Bridgeport, Conn. (July 17, 2015) -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors names August “Play Ball Month” as part of its partnership with Major League Baseball's "Play Ball" initiative, which focuses on the fun nature of baseball and encourages widespread participation in baseball-related activities.
“I guess we are a little ahead of the curve what with Cal Ripken coming to town last week to dedicate our three newest ball fields,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “That’s hard to top, but we’ll make certain that August is a great month for baseball in Bridgeport, too.”
On July 9, Mayor Finch welcomed baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. to Bridgeport for a community celebration of three new baseball fields at Blackham School in the city’s North End.
“The Cal Ripken Sr. foundation truly is changing lives – really, saving lives – through this program,” said Mayor Finch. “These fields mean the world not only to the North End Little League and to the kids here who attend Blackham School but to the entire Bridgeport community. We couldn’t me more grateful.”
The complex on Thorme Street is the six Youth Development Park completed by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation in Bridgeport.
The hall-of-famer and Mayor Finch officially dedicated the Thorme Street community complex last week. The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation has built 58 fields since 2010. Ripken fields are located from Washington State to Texas to Florida to Maine.
The new fields at Blackham School include the same synthetic turf used in professional baseball stadiums as well as new dugouts, scoreboards and backstops.
The complex hosts three ball fields, including an all-inclusive field that will accommodate kids with special needs. Better drainage on the turf will translate to more time playing and less down time for kids.
At the dedication, Steve Salem, the president of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, described Mayor Finch as “without a doubt, our number one guy across the country when it comes to getting these parks done.” Each costs between $1 million and $1.5 million to build.
Last week, the Bridgeport Bluefish hosted the “Heroes for Heroes” Legends Game at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard, in which two City employees played. Andrew Nunn, the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Bridgeport, played for the Red Sox team while Joe Tiago, an employee for the Public Facilities Department of Bridgeport, was found on the Yankees roster.
The game is part of the Bridgeport Bluefish’s 2015 All-Star Week festivities. Proceeds benefited a nonprofit based right here in Bridgeport called ABRI/Homes for the Brave, which works to improve the lives on homeless individuals, especially veterans.
“Bridgeport has always been such a great baseball down. I always look forward to opening day for the North End Little League and Bridgeport Caribe,” said Mayor Finch. “They’re great kids who absolutely love baseball. That’s one of the best things about being mayor – throwing out the first pitch.”
Under Mayor Finch’s administration, the city has renovated and created over 100 acres of parkland. Most recently, Mayor Finch opened Knowlton Park, a new waterfront park along the Pequonnock River.
"Mayors are proud to partner with Major League Baseball to promote the Great American Pastime – baseball -- in our cities," said USCM President Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. "By sponsoring Play Ball activities in our communities, we will be reminding our young people and their families that this sport is not only fun and easy to play, but also helps to bring our communities closer together.”