A Mott Haven playground has opened its own Field of Dreams for local baseball players.
On Thursday, July 27, NYC Parks commissioner Mitchell Silver; DREAM executive director Richard Berlin; Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; former New York Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira and representatives from Cal Ripken Foundation, Under Armour and Baseball Tomorrow Fund celebrated the grand opening of Patterson Playground’s new ball field.
DREAM, a non-profit formerly known as Harlem RBI, raised $1.5 million as part of Parks’ Adopt-a-Park program to transform the former concrete blacktop into a baseball field complete with dugouts and an outfield fence.
“The achievement of turning a blacktop into a true ball field here in the south Bronx was possible because of the hard work of this community and we are incredibly grateful for all of their efforts,” shared Berlin.
Construction began last fall and was recently completed to include a brand new synthetic turf field benefiting the community and P.S. 18 students.
Measuring at just under an acre, the field will be used for DREAM summer and after-school programming to provide children with opportunities to recognize their athletic and academic potential.
According to commissioner Silver, Parks will start a $2.5 million renovation of the 2.37-acre Patterson Playground in fall 2018 complete with new basketball and handball courts, play equipment, swing sets, a new community garden and landscaping.
The phase II renovation is being funded by $2.2 million from Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and $300,000 from Mayor de Blasio.
“DREAM has shown that little league can make a big difference in the lives of our kids, inspiring and nurturing nearly 2,000 children by giving them a place to play, learn and grow,” expressed Council Speaker Mark-Viverito.
“I am excited about the impact this new field will have on the school and the community and I look forward to working with DREAM to improve the lives of our borough’s youth for years to come,” said Diaz.
Constructed in 1953, the playground honors Fordham Prep and Fordham University alum Lester W. Patterson, a former Bronx County judge appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to serve as the National War Fund chairman in 1945.
Patterson was voted into a second term, but died shortly after Election Day on November 16, 1947.
The ball field was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Jay and Patty Baker, Baseball Tomorrow Fund, Cal Ripken Foundation, Gray Foundation, New York Yankees, former Yankees future Hall of Fame shortstop and third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Under Armour, Mark-Viverito, Diaz, Community Board 1 and Patterson Houses Tenant Association.
“We feel great whenever any of our community’s ball fields are renovated,” said Cedric Loftin, CB 1 district manager. “Patterson Playground’s new ball field will ensure our community’s continued positive development while also providing our youth amazing opportunities on and off the field.”