CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The old baseball field at the Boys and Girls Club of the Coastal Bend was simply a fenced-in patch of grass.
Now it features a dirt infield, home plate, and bases thanks to a $50,000 grant from Major League Baseball and Scotts Lawn Care.
“Thank you," Boys and Girls Club participant Mark Martinez said. "This is greatly appreciated, and it’ll surely get used.”
The 16 year old and his two younger brothers have been going to the club after school for more than five years.
They're also baseball players, and they see the new field as a way for them to spread their love for America's Pastime.
"Them being able to get this done, hopefully we’ll be able to get kids out here to be able to play on the field," he said. "Kids will be excited to come out here. It’ll be great.”
The Field Refurbishment Program reviews applications from hundreds of organizations across the country who'd like to have their baseball fields improved.
Only four grants are awarded each year, and the local Boys and Girls Club is happy to be one of the recipients.
"We really appreciate Scotts and Major League Baseball for providing the funds to get this field to where it’s supposed to be," Boys and Girls Club of the Coastal Bend Board of Directors President Joe Guzman said. "The young athletes that we have are going to really like it."
After the ribbon-cutting for the new field Wednesday, Olympic gold medal-winning softball player Jennie Finch answered questions and then helped lead a baseball clinic for the kids.
She's been affiliated with the refurbishment program for three years, and she says she loves coming to communities to celebrate new ballparks.
"It’s everything for the kids to come out here and know people care, and for them to come out here and feel like a future big leaguer out here on the field," she said.
Whether Major League Baseball is in Martinez's future isn't certain, but he does know what the game means to him -- a game he can now play where he hangs out after school.
“Everything outside of the fence, outside of the field, with family, with personal problems, whatever it is, all of that doesn’t matter," he said. "You’re on the field. You’re here to have fun. It’s a good getaway."