By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
But the ball field at Orangewood Avenue and Dale Street does represent a dream rooted in the tradition of hope springing anew every spring when the cry of “play ball!” echoes across the land.
Tucked a bit out of sight behind the Orangewood Avenue Baptist Church on the Garden Grove-Stanton border is the new home field of the Orange County Lionettes, a 14-and-under version of the legendary women’s softball teams of years ago. At least it will be their home field if the organizers can gather enough money and materials to turn a dusty plot of land into a proper softball diamond.
“I’ll take any help I can get,” said Brad Dyer, one of the three coaches who are starting up this new non-profit travel team for area girls. “We’ve done all the grading and put in the irrigation.” But the field needs to be seeded with grass, dugouts built and more.
It’s not just a softball diamond from 16 players from the area. It’s also an effort at urban renewal.
“This place has been a hangout for gangs,” said Dyer. “We’re trying to turn a negative into a positive.”
Ty McClane, pastor of the church which owns the land, agrees. “There’s been a history for problems there,” he said. “We’ve got gangs and punks. We get tagged [graffiti] every week and we’ve been broken into several times. It’s a high-traffic, low-[income] area.”
McClane felt that the only way he could protect the church property would be to lock it up, but he didn’t want to do that. “A lot of people use our lot to pick up and drop off kids” at nearby Rancho Alamitos High School.
So, perhaps a softball field is the answer. “We hope it will bring families of the players there, mothers and fathers and grandparents and friends of the family. We think it’s a way to connect to the community,” said McClane.
But it’s costly. Dyer estimates there’s about $10,000 worth of work that needs to be done. “In this economy, getting contributions is like pulling teeth,” he said. Additionally, corporations have also cut back on their charitable giving.
Anyone interested in making a tax-deductable donation of cash or materials can contact Dyer at (714) 906-3810.
It’s a chance to be part of the campaign to help build the Lionettes a home, before someone decides to make a motion picture out of the story.