Ozzie Yon is confident that if he builds it, they will come.
“It” is a baseball diamond, but Yon is not a farmer from Iowa like Kevin Costner’s character who builds his own field in the movie Field of Dreams. He’s a construction project manager from Pelham Bay. And his field would be in Ferry Point Park, not a cornfield.
Yon, a baseball enthusiast, wants to build a brand-new, top-of-the-line baseball field in Ferry Point Park. He is organizing a group of colleagues from the construction industry who are willing to build the field free of charge, if they can find donors for the necessary materials.
Any construction would have to be approved by the city’s Parks Department. Yon said he has reached out to Bronx borough commissioner Hector Aponte and is awaiting a face-to-face meeting.
He and his enlisted colleagues have been making trips to the field every other weekend since late summer, plotting how they could install a regulation diamond.
“I’ve used that park since when I was a kid,” the 35-year-old Yon said. “We had cookouts, and softball was a popular sport back then. As we’re getting older we are looking to give back to our community. A lot of my peers, we’re starting to see there’s a lack of activities for kids.
“We want to utilize our experience in the construction industry,” he said. “But we have no idea what the parks department will allow us to do, so we are open to suggestions.”
Ferry Point Park already has two baseball fields, but they have become unplayable, largely because they have been used exclusively for soccer over the past few years.
“None of these fields are in a condition where it’s safe enough for anyone to play on,” Yon said.
He envisions a field that could be used by local high schools, youth leagues and adult leagues. Yon, who played baseball at Lehman High School, believes that the entire neighborhood lacks high-quality baseball fields, outside of the Throgs Neck Little League, which is only available to children up to their mid teens.
Dottie Poggi, president of Friends of Ferry Point Park, agreed that a baseball field would be an asset.
Considering the 110-acre park already has a new, regulation soccer field, Poggi saw no reason the baseball fields should be monopolized.
“We want the park to be diversified so everyone can use it,” she said “Not just soccer. It’s not fair on a weekend to have just one sport take over.”
Poggi suggested the would-be baseball field builders apply for grants or solicit elected officials for financial support.
“They sound very serious about it,” she said.
But any field would hinge on approval from Parks.
Yon pictures the field being a gathering spot in summer nights, with families coming from throughout the northeast Bronx to watch their kids play.
Shoeless Joe Jackson might even make an appearance, too.
Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394.