Whitecaps Community Foundation Restores Historic Ted Rasberry Field
Ted Rasberry field, formerly Sheldon Park at 1010 Sheldon SE, underwent extensive renovations last summer. Now updated to playable condition for the first time in over a decade, this transformed field will be called “home field” for the Inner City Youth Baseball & Softball Program as they enter their 22nd year.
Originally owned by Grand Rapids Public Schools, the city took ownership of the field and collaborated on the renovations with GRPS, the Parks and Recreation Department, YMCA, Fifth Third Bank, and the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Renovations were partially funded throu
gh a grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, an MLB initiative designed to grow and promote youth baseball and softball. After the Whitecaps Community Foundation (WCF) discovered the grant and pitched it to the YMCA, they were instrumental in guiding the group through the grant process.
Work began last summer and included landscaping, irrigation, and installing base anchors to have the field ready to go for this season. Whitecaps staff built bleachers, because they know how every team needs a strong cheering section. Another important group that helped solidify Ted Rasberry Field was Netech Corporation.
“Netech understands the importance of getting involved, engaging in the community and giving back to those in need. From cleaning up neighborhood parks to laying new floors and repackaging food, it’s part of Netech’s mission to give a helping hand every year,” said Lindsay Huff Marketing Coordinator for Netech Corporation.
Each of the Netech offices, across the Central Midwest, volunteer for a day of service to assist community members in need and join in on large projects that could use some extra hands.
“We wanted to create an area where kids can take care of something that is theirs,” said Jessica Muzevuca, community relations manager for the Whitecaps. “We want children to be proud of this field and take responsibility for it. The park is open to the public and we think it will become a nice neighborhood piece.” The mission of the Inner City Youth Baseball & Softball Program has roots with a local baseball legend Ted Rasbbery, former player, manager, and owner of the Kansas City Monarchs and Detroit Stars. Rasberry was a force in the community and focused on starting and running youth leagues throughout the area as well as developing housing in the Sheldon neighborhood.
For more than two decades, the program has been a gateway to team sports for kids in the city who otherwise might not have the opportunity. The six-week season takes place in neighborhoods across the city, so that players are able to walk to and from practice and games.
All players are accepted, and there’s no cost to play. Area organizations host equipment and uniform drives, and WCF works with the league to help provide meals for players after practice. They annually serve around 1,200 elementary and middle school children who participate in the program.
The YMCA is excited to expand the program, Johnathan Pope, executive director of the David D. Hunting YMCA, said “Along with the other neighborhood parks that are used in this league, Rasberry Field will be an im
portant asset to the program and community.”
Along with being fun and healthy activities, these sports programs are critical for developing youth. The teamwork, commitment, and self-esteem boost that come with being part of a team are invaluable to keeping players engaged and revitalizing communities. Between practice and games the season runs from mid-June to early August, making it the perfect summer family activity before school starts again.
Anyone interested in the program, either as a player or volunteer, is encouraged to contact the David D. Hunting YMCA by phone at (616) 855-6622 or in person at 475 Lake Michigan Drive.