LOS ANGELES -- For Kenny Landreaux, finding a suitable baseball field growing up in Compton wasn't an easy thing to do. So that's why the former Dodger was so excited about the club's announcement on Tuesday to build 42 Dodgers Dreamfields, a long-term effort that will bring the total number of fields to 50. "I would have loved to have a field like this," said Landreaux as he stood on the Dodgers Dreamfield at the Evergreen Recreation Center in East Los Angeles. "We had fields growing up, but they weren't manicured and put together like these fields."
Now finding a suitable field in Los Angeles won't be such a difficult task, as there will be 50 Dreamfields in the area to celebrate the Los Angeles Dodgers' 50th anniversary. The project will have the help of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks as well as the Friedman Charitable Foundation. Owners Frank and Jamie McCourt made the announcement at a ceremony at the Evergreen Recreation Center, which is one of eight current Dreamfields in Los Angeles. "Jamie and I have been focused on three things as stewards of the Dodgers," Frank McCourt said. "One is putting a great team out there, the other is giving the fans a great experience and third is giving back to this great community. But what brought us here today was giving back the community with these fields." Also there to celebrate the announcement were Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, L.A. Recreation and Parks director Barry Sanders, Bruce and Daryn Friedman from the Friedman foundation and former Dodgers Bobby Castillo, Derrell Thomas and Landreaux. The celebration also featured students from local schools such as First Street Elementary, Hollenbeck Middle School and Roosevelt High School, which is the same high school that Villaraigosa attended. Helping out the children is what the Dodgers Dreamfields program is all about. "These kids deserve to hope and dream like so many other kids," Jamie McCourt said. "It's my contention that anything you need to learn about life can be learned in a baseball game. You learn to better yourself, you work with teammates and persevere while trying to win." The Dreamfields program is one of the main initiatives of the Dodgers Dream Foundation, which provides educational, athletic and recreational opportunities for kids in the greater Los Angeles area, with special emphasis on serving the needs of traditionally underprivileged youth. The Dodgers Dream Foundation, which was founded in 1998, began creating the first eight fields in 2003. The current Dodgers Dream Fields are located at Culver Marina Little League, Seoul International Park, Algin Sutton Recreation Center, Montecito Recreation Center, Cheviot Hills Park, Bishop Canyon Recreation Center, Wrigley Field and the Evergreen Recreation Center. The fields include fencing, sod and top soil for the infield and warning track, irrigation systems, bases, foul poles, lights, bleachers, scoreboards and signage. There is no timeline for when the 42 fields will be completed. Some fields will be new, while others will be refurbished. It generally takes 90 days to build a Dodgers Dreamfield. "It's a big effort for the City of Los Angeles," said Bruce Friedman, chairman of the board of the Friedman Charitable Foundation. "It's a big effort for everyone involved. It's a combination of Parks and Recreation, the Dodgers and our foundation." The locations of the fields will be chosen in cooperation with the city's Department of Recreation and Parks and officials of other cities and counties. But the public can send nominations to email@example.com.
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.