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Fort Wayne & TinCaps Partner For "Play Ball" Upgrades

Zach Bernard/WBOI News

Last summer, the City of Fort Wayne teamed up with Major League Baseball and USA Baseball for the Play Ball initiative, which aims to encourage participation in youth baseball and improve cities. On Thursday, the City, in partnership with the TinCaps, unveiled its first upgrade.

Mason Park is just off Sandpoint Road on Fort Wayne’s southwest side, and features three baseball diamonds that are used by youth leagues of all ages.

Its field is well-trimmed and maintained, but some of its amenities are older, beaten down and in need of replacement. So, that’s why the City of Fort Wayne and the TinCaps donated new green screens and L-screen protectors for pitchers.

Green screens behind home plate may not seem critical, but as Elmhurst Little League President Ricky Weber says, they are necessary for young, developing pitchers.

“They’ve got so much stress,” Weber said. “They’re worried about hitting the batter, they’re worried about walking the batter. To remove all the distractions from a parent, people walking by. Just to allow them to focus on the basic skill and remove the distractions is a plus.”

Credit Zach Bernard/WBOI News
A new "L-screen" (left) positioned next to an old one it is replacing (right).

Weber was also quick to note the safety hazard of Mason Park's old L-screens, which over the years had been rusted and abused to the point of placing coaches and pitchers at risk.

"I throw batting practice to 11 and 12-year olds every day," he said. "I've gotten hit in the head by a ball probably four times this year alone. And they're at the point where they're hitting the ball really hard. Those L-screens are a life-saver."

City of Fort Wayne spokesman John Perlich says it’s important to invest in youth baseball and local parks.

“The kids deserve it, spectators deserve it, and it’s a great way for the City and the TinCaps to be community oriented to give back and make investments in Fort Wayne.”

Perlich says Fort Wayne will assist one park in the city annually as part of the Play Ball initiative.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered, and hosted Morning Edition for the past few years. In 2022, he was promoted to Content Director.
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