BERKELEY, MO. (KTVI) - The Cardinals Care Foundation named its newest youth ball field after Cards pitcher Chris Carpenter. The City of Berkeley ended years of being without a baseball diamond, while little girls were ready to hit the mound and break old gender roles.
“It’s like back in the day when little kids used to play baseball,” said Xavier Windom, a student at Airport Elementary School.
“I want to be the pitcher,” classmate Damonte Taylor smiled. “Because, I’m a good thrower.”
So just walking distance from the school, the Cardinals Care Foundation spent Wednesday morning naming its 20th youth ball field. The wind had already unveiled the solar-powered scoreboard. Cards announcer Dan McLaughlin counted down to a round of applause.
“3… 2… 1,” the crowd cheered and turned toward the outfield. The board read, “Chris Carpenter Field”.
“We’ve never had this before,” said Airport Elementary student Ariel Houston. “And, it’s kind of like, awesome. So, of course I want to play baseball here.”
Carp may not know it, but he has inspired some of his youngest fans to hit stereotypes out of this park. They said that baseball is not just for the boys of summer, but the girls, too.
“We can play baseball,” classmate Nyah Davis said she is ready to play. “It’s just that sometimes, people think that we’re kind of weak. And sometimes, we’re not.”
Berkely Fire Chief Henry Williams coaches for the Cardinals' Redbird Rookies League. He laughed out loud at the notion that girls can’t play ball.
“Most of the time, most of my best hitters are girls on my teams,” he said many young ladies on his team go on to be extremely successful softball players.
Williams also said the city had its own ball field years ago.
“But, the ground was contaminated,” he explained. “So, they had to do away with the baseball fields. So, this is like breathing new life into the city.”
The Cards pitcher said baseball did the same for him, and it will for these boys and girls.
“It was something that kept me out of trouble as a kid,” he remembered. “Come play baseball every single weekend and practice during the week and keep my mind toward school and baseball.”
Carpenter said he will be back in Berkeley. Next time, he will bring his own kids.
“This is nicest field I’ve ever seen,” he laughed.
Each field is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Cardinals Care Foundation helps kids with mentorship, educational support and healthcare.
For more information just visit: http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/stl/community/index.jsp.