Dodgers Dreamfield Dedication on Jackie Robinson’s Birthday

PHOTO: 14-year-old Chayanne at the dedication of Jesse Owens Park

At dusk, on what would have been Jackie Robinson’s 95th birthday, 13-year-old Kamryn Mercer practiced his pitch at the brand new Dodgers Dreamfield at Jesse Owens Park and reflected on the legacy of the legendary player who broke the baseball color line.

“Jackie Robinson is important to me because he was the first African-American baseball player,” Kamryn said. “Also, he played for the Dodgers. And out of a million parks in the world, the Dodgers have chosen us. He’s looking down on all the hope-to-be baseball players and blessing them.”

The Dodgers Dreamfield at Jesse Owens Park, a 20-acre park in South Los Angeles named after one of the most celebrated African American Olympians of all time, is the latest of five fields built with funding from the Dodgers Foundation, LA 84, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Created in 1998, the Dodgers Foundation provides educational, athletic and recreation opportunities for children in the Los Angeles area, with a special emphasis in helping underserved youth. LA84 was endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles to serve children through sports. Jesse Owens Park is the fifth partnership in the second district following the renovations of Athens, Lennox, Mona, and Campanella park fields. Dreaming in the batter’s box are Ted Watkins Park and Roosevelt Park, which Supervisor Ridley-Thomas hopes will be funded later this year.

Jesse Owens Park received $266,000 worth of upgrades including new bases, paint, scoreboards, signage, dugout roofs and fresh green grass.

For 14-year-old Chayanne, who was born and raised two blocks away, the park is a fresh beginning. Since she began playing at the age of five, baseball has held a special place in her childhood memories.

“I didn’t know how to hit the ball or catch or do anything like that. It was just running in dirt circles,” she said.

The field needed some help. She remembers one game — before the park’s recent renovation — where she accidentally ran past the bases because they were buried in dirt. And it became so difficult to play that Chayanne eventually stopped playing altogether.

But inspired by the professional Dodgers players and the 200 children invited to participate in the dedication ceremony, Chayanne might grab a bat again.

“It’s important to have this baseball field for the new up-and-comers,” says Chayanne. “Now there’s green grass and it looks way nicer. And it’s way bigger. And I might start playing baseball again because of this field.”

Where should the next Dodgers Dreamfield be? Let us know your thoughts below:

13 replies
  1. Claudia Hernandez
    Claudia Hernandez says:

    I believe that the best location for a new Dodger Dreamfield would be the “Mary McCloud Bethune Park” in Florence-Firestone.

  2. Gloria Medina
    Gloria Medina says:

    We have two beautiful parks that the Supervisors had been working on: Roosevelt and Ted Watkins, and we thank you for it. But we also have two more parks that need our support: Leon Washington Park in Maei and Bethune Park on Hooper. It is important to also work on these parks since they offer services to two different group of residents.

    It is time to make the difference in Mary Mcloud Bethune Park, let have the Dodger Dreamfield in this park. This will also help the high school next to them. Hope the Supervisor decides to make this possible.

  3. Peter Sanchez
    Peter Sanchez says:

    Without a doubt, Bethune Park needs a new baseball field .It has been my home away from home since I played baseball there as a young boy in the mid 80` as an adult, I am a volunteer coach there. I have been coaching baseball for approximately 8 years now and I enjoy every minute of it. We (the Bethune park community)have been hoping and praying for a new field. we hope that our prayers can finally be answered and that we can have a new field at our park. It would be an honor and a privilege to see this dream come true!

  4. Peter Sanchez
    Peter Sanchez says:

    It would be a big blessing to the Bethune Park community to have a new baseball field. Please help us answer our prayers in making this dream become a reality!

  5. Cristofer Flores-Lopez
    Cristofer Flores-Lopez says:

    It would be a blessing to the whole community that resides near or around Bethune Park including myself. The whole idea of getting a new Baseball field is so amazing because I remember being 7-8 years old and playing baseball there. It was such an amazing field and it continues to be one due to the amount of community support. I believe that the best place for the dodger dream field is in Bethune Park. It would not only motivate young children to come out and play baseball, but it will encourage parents to take their children to the park rather then keeping them inside playing video games. My community needs this type of change and motivation.

    Thank you,

    Cristofer Flores-Lopez

  6. Isabel Perez
    Isabel Perez says:

    The children surrounding the community of Bethune Park located in the Florence-Firestone area of South Los Angeles are in dire need of having a “Dodgers Dreamfield”. I have been privileged to have met such hard working and dedicated families these last few years as the administrator of the elementary school across the street from Bethune Park. Parents in this community strive to provide their children with opportunities that will positively influence their path to succeed. One factor that contributed to my academic success was the involvement in organized sports (softball & basketball) from ages 6 – 16 at my hometown’s local parks and recreation center. I look forward to experiencing this dream become reality for our community!

  7. Victor Cegarra
    Victor Cegarra says:

    The community at 61st and Hooper desperately needs a new baseball field. These people are working hard to beat the odds and a new baseball field would be instrumental to the betterment of the community and to the realization of a better tomorrow. Let Bethune Park be the next Dodger’s Dreamfield.

  8. Scott Kossak
    Scott Kossak says:

    Peter, I’m in agreement with you! Bethune Park near Hooper and 61st Street serves as a positive hub for the children in the area. With the opening of Dr. Lawrence H. Moore Math, Science, and Technology Academy just across the street, children are in desperate need of a park that promotes teamwork and making healthy choices.

  9. Pat Lovato
    Pat Lovato says:

    Bethune park will definitely benefit from a new field. I have been living in the Bethune park community for over 40 years and we would love to have a new baseball field!


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