When I was 10 years old, I was the starting pitcher for the Phillies, a Lynwood City Parks and Recreation “10-inch” baseball team. My dad was the assistant coach.
Destined for the National Baseball Hall of Fame because of my array of pitches (a fastball and a not-so-fastball), I lived for baseball then.
Our games were played on various bumpy, dirt elementary school fields that had a few bleachers and a backstop.
But on game day, those fields had magically received chalked foul lines and a chalked batter’s box and might just as well have been Dodger Stadium or Wrigley Field. I would walk onto the field and swear I could hear Vin Scully.
I don’t know who prepared the fields, but I will always appreciate them for helping me live out by baseball dream.
Fast forward to today in Fountain Valley where the Fountain Valley Sports Park is home to hundreds of Little League, “Fastpitch” softball and adult softball games every week throughout the spring and summer and in some cases year-round.
You can thank the city of Fountain Valley Recreation and Community Services Department for making Fountain Valley the envy of many other cities when it comes to recreational baseball – not to mention soccer, basketball, handball and tennis.
Here’s what really boggles my mind. The Sports Park falls under a city department that consists of just six full-time employees – two of whom are responsible for the Senior Center.
Who are the six? I’m proud to say all are friends of mine: Community Services Manager Rob Frizzelle, Community Services Supervisors Christy Araiza and Nora Webb, and Recreation Coordinators Scott Baker, Yolanda Markey and Holland McNabb.
The rest of the community services staff is comprised of part-time, non-benefited but dedicated and hardworking employees who appreciate the opportunity to work for this city. I wish I could name all of them.
This is a staff that, besides coordinating all recreation and community services events year-round, also is responsible for the Concerts in the Park, Movies in the Park, Great Fountain Valley Campout, Easter Egg Hunt, Christmas Tree Lighting and Summerfest.
With memories of my youth forever etched in my baseball-size brain, I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of young local athletes who cherish that next game on a baseball field or on the Recreation Center basketball court or soccer field.
You know, I love Facebook posts by parents celebrating their children’s games and my adult friends enjoying the camaraderie and good life on the softball field.
Oh, and if you’re interested in the rest of my baseball career, I played one more year of uneventful 10-inch, one year of uneventful Little League and one year of very uneventful Pony League baseball (I broke my foot and missed all but two games).
And you know what: Winning or losing or getting a hit wasn’t what was important to me. It was knowing my parents and their friends were always in the bleachers, cheering us on and having fun.
But most importantly, they were appreciating the city’s understanding that well-maintained parks went a long way in shaping a quality community.
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