Community Grounds Crew
The ValleyCats and BlueShield of Northeastern New York formed a strong community partnership in 2012 known as the Community Grounds Crew, which is an initiative to assist local youth leagues with maintenance and upkeep of their fields throughout the spring and summer. Their mission is to provide the youth of the Capital Region with a safe place to play, learn, grow, and most importantly have fun.
In early April 2015, the Community Grounds Crew will kick off with the annual "4 in 24 Extreme Field Renovation Project," which will see four youth fields renovated in under 24 hours. The extent of the work includes new sod placed on the infield, rebuilding of the pitcher's mound and home plate areas, raking and grading of the infield dirt, cutting the baselines to the correct specifications, and more.
Leagues interested in having their field considered for the "4 in 24" renovations must complete the application by Monday, February 16. Leagues are required to submit an application, along with photos of the field primarily of the infield, home plate, and pitcher's mound areas.
(Applications submitted beyond February 16, or not selected for the '4 in 24,' will remain in consideration for the Community Grounds Crew program, which will accept and evaluate applications on an ongoing basis.)
Each project is also supported by the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation. Contributions come from past events such as the Capital Region Craft Brewers Festival, hosted by the ValleyCats and Brown's Brewing Company, and two corporate baseball tournaments that take place at "The Joe" including the Battle of the Beverages and the Capital Region Series.
The field renovation began in 2003 right in the ValleyCats backyard, who together with The Brickman Group, renovated South Troy Little League.
In 2004, the ValleyCats and The Brickman Group refurbished DeMercurio Field at Veterans Memorial Park, home of Albany's American Little League. The work completed at this park included rebuilding of the pitchers' mound and cutting of the baselines. Brickman supplied the materials and the head groundskeeper at Joseph L. Bruno stadium, oversaw the project.
In the spring of 2007, the ValleyCats again teamed up with The Brickman Group to restore the Watervliet Little League field. The work completed on this field included rebuilding of the pitchers' mounds, cutting of the baselines, leveling of the infield, repairs to the warning track, mowing the grass, and general clean-up. The ValleyCats front office staff as well as volunteers from the Watervliet Little League donated their time to make completion of the project possible.
The ValleyCats, The Brickman Group and Capital Communications Federal Credit Union joined together in 2008 to help repair Berkley Park, home of Cohoes Little League.
The details include rebuilding the pitcher's mound to regulation standards, filling in the home plate area and cutting the baselines. The infield was raked and graded and the bases were painted. The warning track has been dug out, re-sodded and crushed stone was laid down.
The tradition continued in 2009 with the partnership of the 'Cats, Brickman and CapCom, as Lansingburgh Little League became the next field to receive a facelift. The challenge during this project was to install a complete warning track, which all of the volunteers were able to do successfully. Yellow fence toppers were also installed on three of Lansingburgh's fields, and a new batting cage net was added along with two backstop pads.
In 2011 the Tri-City ValleyCats embarked on the ambitious '4 in 24' project to renovate four local youth playing fields in a twenty-four hour time period. Check out the below recaps:
'4 in 24' Field Renovation History
- 2011: Westland Hills in Albany, Ballston Spa Jr. Baseball League in Ballston Spa, Northside Little League in Schenectady and Scotia-Glenville Little League in Scotia.
- 2012: Cambridge Valley Athletic Association, South Colonie Youth Baseball, Coxsackie Little League and Waterford Little League.
- 2013: Green Island Little League, Hudson Valley Little League in Ravena, Menands Junior Baseball and National Little League of Albany.
- 2014: Twin Town Little League in North Greenbush, Spring Youth Baseball in Troy, Schenectady Little League, and Berne-Knox-Westerlo Little League.