Memorial Park Ball Fields' Renovations
Architectural Rendering of Phase 2. Click here for additional renderings.
Running a baseball and softball program for area children is always fraught with responsibilities. There’s registration, sponsorships, uniforms, coaches and umpires, and all the other elements necessary to ensure a smoothly run season. But, the all-volunteer Rockport-Fulton Little League had even more to contend with for opening day Spring 2018 – Hurricane Harvey.
The Category 4 hurricane not only destroyed the playing fields at Memorial Park but was also responsible for approximately 25% of the area’s population not returning immediately. Some lost homes. Others chose to live elsewhere, so their children could continue their education while the Aransas County schools were being repaired.
Shortly after the initial relief efforts began, a concern arose – what can be done for the children to bring things back to normal as quickly as possible? The first priority was already underway with the rebuilding of the schools. The second was to turn to America’s pastime – baseball – to heal and recover.
Just days after the storm made landfall, Pete Geren, president of the Fort Worth-based Sid W. Richardson Foundation, was touring the area with Rockport Mayor C.J. Wax and Aransas County Judge C. H. “Burt” Mills, Jr. to assess the damage. The Richardson Foundation has had a long history in Rockport, dating back to 1936 when its namesake acquired San Jose Island. Since that time, first Sid Richardson and later his nephew and grand nephews, the Bass Family, and the Richardson Foundation have donated millions of dollars to worthy causes in Rockport.
In November 2017, the Richardson Foundation and the Bass Foundation began working with the City of Rockport to develop design and engineering plans for the reconstruction of the Memorial Park fields. In January 2018, a collaborative effort came together and the work began. The Texas Sports Turf Managers Association; Rockport-Fulton Little League; local residents; and volunteers from the Houston Astros, Corpus Christi Hooks, City of Grapevine Parks and Recreation Department and San Marcos Academy began replacing sod and irrigation, laser grading of the infield, mound rebuilding and seeding. Singer-songwriter Charlie Robison, the Nolan Ryan Foundation, the Round Rock Express minor league baseball team, and RS3 Turf Services underwrote the cost of the repairs, not covered by the donation of services, products and equipment from other companies.
Opening Day April 2018
The City’s Parks Department, the Richardson and Bass Foundations and the AGC South Texas Chapter undertook the work necessary to make the fields ready for opening day. This included ongoing maintenance of the turf; installation of new lighting and fencing; construction of dugouts and batting areas for all three fields; and the design, realignment and construction of a new Little League field for junior baseball to replace the senior field destroyed by the storm. AGC mobilized an army of volunteers and donors to build that field.
When the season ended, the Richardson and Bass Foundations continued their work with the City in construction of restroom facilities, back stops, a concession and storage building and bleachers; and relocating the T-ball field. The Rockport-Fulton Little League will purchase a scoreboard, which will be installed by the Parks Department.
We're looking forward to a first class facility when the new season opens in 2019.