Tampa baseball field getting much-needed upgrades thanks to generous donations

TAMPA, Fla. - A baseball field with decades of history has deteriorated so much that it has become too unsafe to play on.

However, thanks to generous donations, the field where some MLB greats got their start, is now getting some much-needed upgrades.

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Generations of families have been coming to West Tampa Little League’s Field One at MacFarlane Park in Tampa since the 1960s.

"I played ball here as a child. After playing here, my kids played here. My grandkids played here," Leo Alvarez said. "Sitting in the stands, playing on the field together. It brings families together, brings a sense of community, brings the West Tampa community together, so it's a great place. It brings back great memories."

But for some time, Alvarez says Field One has been in disarray. Photos show dead grass in several parts of the field. At one point, Alvarez says the ground was so unlevel it became too dangerous to play on.

"There were rocks in the field. It needed clay. The grass was not cut the way it should have been, so not only aesthetically, it didn't look nice, it wasn't safe to have kids on there," West Tampa Little League Sponsorship Coordinator Maria Castillo said.

That’s when Castillo got in touch with Alvarez who reached out to his employer BayFirst Bank where he serves as vice-president, and told them about the need.

"The bank came back and doubled what I asked for and just to make sure, I said, ‘We sure about this?’ And they said, let's do it," Alvarez said.

On Saturday, Alvarez presented a $10,000 check on behalf of BayFirst Bank to West Tampa Little League during the closing ceremonies of their spring season.

"BayFirst knows the players, they know the team. They're down the street from us. They're here hanging out, interacting with the kids. It wasn't just here's your check, and we're done. They really decided to be a partner with us and that's amazing," Castillo said.

The park got to work a few weeks ago on upgrading the field by putting in new sod and dirt new bleachers and fence padding. A field with decades of history is now back in play.

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"We don’t have to turn away boys. They have a safe field to play on. We’re just blown away by that generosity," Castillo said.

Along with the field improvements, the concession stand area is also getting upgrades and a new paint job is expected to be done in the next few weeks.

The first game will be played on the new field on Sunday.

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