Many members of the Lehi Community and those who play or once played baseball or softball gathered together at the Lehi baseball field on the cloudy Sunday afternoon on March 1 to unveil and dedicate the newly renovated Lehi Ball Field.
The gathering was held on the outfield under a white canopy. The dedication was accomplished with the help of not only the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, but also staff from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies baseball teams.
The field has significant meaning in the Lehi district because generations of families have gathered there for baseball and softball tournaments over the years, as well as other events. This was the first field-renovation project accomplished with the Major League Baseball partnership, hoping to inspire youth and everyone who plays in field sports.
The emcee for the afternoon was Arizona Diamondbacks television play-by-play announcer Steve Berthiaume, who welcomed everyone to the dedication. SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier also welcomed everyone, including leadership, CEOs and players, thanking them for taking time out of their weekend to unveil the new ball field.
“When Council decided to build the spring training facility, we knew it was going to be a great adventure, and I am glad the Diamondbacks and Rockies have made it spectacular from the very beginning,” said Council Member Deanna Scabby.
Scabby went on to talk about how many families have played on the field or in the Lehi area for over 50 years, some of whom were in attendance that afternoon. Scabby talked about her memories of playing on the field and how, when it got dark, people would turn on their cars’ high-beams so everyone would be able to continue playing the games.
“Our district, as well as Salt River, has always had a love for baseball,” said Scabby. “Our children love to play ball, and this is for them. Thank you for keeping this going.”
Derrick Hall, president and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, along with former D-Backs players J.J. Putz and Luis Gonzalez, joined the celebration. Also present were Richard Monfort, the Colorado Rockies chairman and CEO, and other staff and players from the Rockies.
“It is our job that 50 years from now baseball and softball are still the top sports to play or be watched in the Community; that is why we do things such as this,” said Hall. “The D-backs are very selective on who we partner with, and we are honored to be working with the SRPMIC. We have the very best spring training facility to this day, and we are very proud to be a part of this Community.”
The program included a ceremonial base placement in the center of the field by Harvier, Hall and Monfort. The ceremonial first pitch by Community member Aaron Makil, a senior from Westwood High School, was thrown to LaTroy Hawkins of the Colorado Rockies. Then Arnold Makil, Lehi resident and former baseball player with the Lehi Raiders, pitched one as well.
After the base placement, everyone turned their attention toward the scoreboard as it was lit up to complete the dedication ceremony.
Frank Wakolee and Paul Martinez, who played on the Lehi Raiders baseball team for several years, were also present to watch the dedication. “This is for the youth and the future, and we are proud to be able to witness this,” said Martinez. To show their support, both still attend the games that take place every year at the Salt River and Lehi ball fields.
Salt River Fields Operations Manager Dave Dunne spoke about the journey to get the ball field refurbished with the help of Salt River Fields staff, and how he was proud to also be a part of the team.
Shortly after the ceremony ended, a small baseball clinic was held on the side of the field with youngsters learning to hit, pitch and catch pop-up balls from the Rockies players.