When Frank and Jamie McCourt bought the Dodgers several years ago, one of their signature philanthropic initiatives was the Dodgers Dreamfield program, which was devoted to renovating and reviving youth baseball fields serving disadvantaged neighborhoods.
It would fit a certain storyline involving Frank McCourt if the promise of that initiative went unfulfilled. But, thankfully — and to Mr. McCourt’s credit — that is not the case. From the Los Angeles Times:
The Dodgers Dream Foundation built — or rebuilt — nine youth baseball fields across Southern California from 2003 to 2010. In 2011, as McCourt’s ownership collapsed, he radically accelerated the Dreamfield program … the Dodgers Dream Foundation delivered 10 fields last year alone.
The Dodgers are rushing to complete six more fields this year — before April 30, when McCourt is scheduled to transfer ownership to new hands. After last weekend’s ceremony, the Dodgers have five fields to complete within five weeks, which would increase the total number of fields to 25.
Now, don’t anyone ruin this by talking about how many more they could have done if for not this or that or by telling me that the only reason McCourt rushed to do this was because of some complicated tax incentive or something.
I mean, there’s plenty of reasons to dislike Frank McCourt. I would prefer it if there were one reason left to like him.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.