GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — When Ted Rasberry returned to Grand Rapids after spending years in baseball’s Negro League, he focused on building a life and share his love of baseball by teaching the sport to inner-city children.
Times have changed. The field named after Rasberry in 2000 fell into disrepair. And there are many more competing interests for kids these days.
“Now they don’t seem to be as interested and we’d like to get them back in baseball,” said Rasberry’s niece, Minnie Forbes.
Forbes is not alone. Major League Baseball and several local companies donated money and efforts toward fixing up Ted Rasberry Field, which serves players in YMCA’s Inner-City Youth Baseball/Softball program.
Wednesday, the freshly green field between Jefferson and Sheldon avenues, north of Highland Street SE, was rededicated.
“They know that now they’re playing on a real field. They can take themselves more seriously. I think it raises their enthusiasm level,” said Lew Chamberlin, managing partner and CEO of the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Below, watch a 24 Hour News 8 interview with Rasberry from 2000, when the baseball field was named after him. App users can click here to watch.
Many of the same groups supporting the $55,000 renovation project at Rasberry Field also kicked off a baseball equipment drive to collect much-needed items like bats and gloves for kids who can’t afford their own. The collection drive runs May 25 through June 9.
New or gently used baseball and softball equipment can be dropped off at any Grand Rapids area Fifth Third Bank branch, Fifth Third Ballpark on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or during any home game, and at any of the following YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids locations:
- David D. Hunting YMCA, 475 Lake Michigan Drive NW, Grand Rapids
- Lowell YMCA, 1335 W. Main Street, Lowell
- Spartan Stores YMCA, 5722 Metro Way, Wyoming
- Mary Free Bed YMCA, 5500 Burton Street SE, Grand Rapids
- Visser Family YMCA, 3540 Fairlanes Ave. SW, Grandville
- Wolverine Worldwide Family YMCA, 6555 Jupiter Ave. NE, Belmont
Donations are good towards four lawn tickets to a 2016 West Michigan Whitecaps’ home game, a voucher for Wendy’s, and one free guest pass to the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids.