DETROIT (WWJ) — It was a field of dreams to many, and now it will be to many more.
The newly restored Balduck Park opened for business on Detroit’s East Side on Saturday. UAW and Ford donated nearly $2 million to help refurbish the park for residents of Detroit’s East English community.
UAW Vice president Jimmy Settles helped to spearheaded the project.
“It’s very, very gratifying,” Settles said. “You know so they can have a facility — a first class facility — that we can want to keep it up. It’s something to be proud of and hopefully it will draw more people into baseball.”
Detroit Tigers Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson, Rajai Davis and legend Willie Horton were on hand for Saturday’s opening ceremonies.
“Baseball is about more than baseball — it’s about life,” Horton said. “If it weren’t for baseball I might not have met Judge Keith — maybe I might never got out of the projects. But, it will make you recognize that it’s more than just one event and that it’s a continuation of what’s going on.”
13-year-old Brandon Taylor said that he’ll get to play his games on the new field.
“I’m really excited — I can’t wait,” Taylor said.
Parent Steffani Gray said that she appreciates the work that went into making the park playable again.
“I like the new ball field — I think it’s beautiful,” Gray said. “I think it makes the corner look a lot better and I’m happy it’s added to the neighborhood.”
Angelique Peterson-Mayberry of the UAW outlined the transformation that the park underwent.
“You will see concession stands, you will have access to WiFi, you will have clean and modernized bathrooms,” Peterson-Mayberry said. “You will have bleachers and an outfield that is outstanding. You will also see a state-of-the-art scoreboard.”
Peterson-Mayberry also described the park as an investment in the future.
“We know that a lot of the NBA and NFL players and Major League Baseball players started in the city of Detroit,” Peterson-Mayberry said. “What they did was that they might not have always had the resources, but yet they prevailed. So if we can be in a position to provide resources for them, I think we have an obligation to do so.”
Peterson-Mayberry added that nearly 1000 kids will have the opportunity to participate in sports programming at the park.