An Austin high school gets a new field of dreams.
Dan Bergstrom’s home field is Minute Maid Park, but over the last six months, another baseball field also became a major part of his life.
Bergstrom (above), the Astros’ Director of Field Operations (a.k.a. head groundskeeper) spent much of his spare time making the three-hour trek west to Austin, where he spearheaded a renovation project that turned an old, dilapidated high school field into a brand new, sparkling baseball facility.
Every year, the Major League Baseball Groundskeepers convene for industry meetings, during which the group goes into the community and selects a baseball field in need of repair. This year’s recipient was Reagan High School in Austin, Texas.
“The project grown last 10 years,” Bergstrom said. “It used to be basic — we’d hop on bus, go out, fix up the mound, fix up home plate, hop on the bus and go back to class. Now, it’s grown into a deal where we have sponsors through Major League Baseball and the Astros and others.”
Aided by a $40,000 grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and with donations from three major sponsors (Toro, Turface Athletics and Covermaster Incorporated) and the Astros In Action Foundation, the Groundskeepers have overseen the complete renovation of the playing surface and other baseball facility upgrades at Reagan High School.
“It’s an awesome relationship that the Baseball Tomorrow fund has established with Major League Baseball Groundskeepers,” said Cathy Bradley, BTF’s executive director. “We really appreciate their hard work they do in Major League stadiums and we’re thankful they’ve donated their time and efforts to improve community programs in all the cities they visit as a group.”
The field was unveiled Tuesday afternoon at the high school during a ceremony attended by representatives from 24 Major League clubs, in addition to Colorado pitcher Huston Street, an Austin native.
“Growing up in Austin, you always have people that inspire you and offer opportunities that come your way,” Street said. “Today was another step in that process for the next generation of kids. The Major League Baseball groundskeepers — they’re the people that make my life better every single day. And now, they’re doing it for kids.”
Bergstrom received a standing ovation from the crowd as he walked to the podium with a long list of people to thank who helped along with way either with donations or sponsorships or assistance in building the field.
“Every time I came over here, I had people in the community helping me out — 10 to 15 people helping out, doing the work,” Bergstrom said. “It’s really an amazing, special project.”
The ceremony also served as the official launch of RBI Austin. RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) is an outreach program of Major League Baseball serving youth ages 5-18 in over 200 cities worldwide.
This is the first RBI program ever in Austin and the 11th program currently in Texas. RBI Austin will use Austin Reagan’s newly renovated baseball field for clinics and a summer league, reaching youth at Reagan and many surrounding schools in East Austin.
“We are incredibly grateful for the generous contributions and tireless work put into this project,” said Matt Price, Director of RBI Austin. “The renovated field is a huge step forward in our efforts to reinvigorate the love for baseball in this community.”