By Kenneth Miller, Publisher
As the K Train whistled east above grade on Florence Ave., below at Ed Vincent Park the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) dedicated baseball/softball fields number 59-60 as Kershaw Challenge Field was opened for play on May 13.
The former Centinela Park which is best known for its gopher infestation has been transformed into a sprawling 55 acre oasis with a brand new basketball court and now the pristine new diamonds which occupy dirt that was used at Dodgers Stadium.
“It until these years that have gone by it was one of the worst parks, but now we changed it, the basketball court and now the baseball field, it means that just have equality but we have equity for the children of Inglewood,” remarked Mayor James T. Butts, Jr.
The mayor was joined by his colleagues on the City Council District 1 member Gloria Gray, District 3 Member Eloy Morales, State Senator for District 35 Steve Bradford, LADF CEO Nichol Whiteman, Ellen Kershaw and her four adorable children Cali Ann, Charley, Cooper Ellis and the ultra-busy body Chance.
Two brand new electronic scoreboards stand tall at the end of both outfield edges where the natural grass playing surface ends.
“It’s an awesome scene just to see so many young people here, the community, elected officials and sponsors of this event. It’s a wonderful event, and it’s just great to create a Dreamfield for our kids to play baseball,” commented Member Gray.
More than 200 girls and boys representing the City of Inglewood Dodgers Dreamteam summer league, including baseball and softball players from Ánimo Inglewood Charter High School and girls from St. Mary’s Academy.
Whiteman, who is an Inglewood native, was thrilled that her home city now has four Dodger Dreamfields.
“Originally known as Centinela Park, the park was renamed Edward Vincent Jr. Park in 1997 to honor the city’s first Black mayor, Edward Vincent, Jr., who spearheaded much of Inglewood’s development during the 60’s. I applaud the City of Inglewood for being an amazing lead partner as we create the dynamic spaces that youth and families deserve. The Dodgers Foundation takes pride in our alliance with the city of Inglewood. In 2016, we launched Dodgers Dreamteam (Formerly Dodgers RBI) in Inglewood. As a result of this partnership, we have impacted over 500 boys and girls–providing them with health and education wrapround services and recreational opportunities that help them thrive in all areas of their lives. In 2017, we dedicated two Dodgers Dreamfields at Darby Park. Again, as an Inglewood resident who lives less than two minutes away, I’m so proud of the partnership and what these two fields mean for the City.”
The Kershaw Challenge Foundation, founded by Dodger superstar pitcher Clayton and his wife Ellen, was instrumental in funding the renovation of the fields.
“The Kershaw’s are a family whose dedication to service is very inspiring,” Whiteman said before introducing Ellen. The Kershaw’s have supported 11 Dodgers Dreamfields and committed more than $2 million towards the projects.
“I wish Clayton could be here and he wishes that he could be here. But what he would say is that he grew up on a field just like this one. It’s where he fell in love with the game of baseball. He learned how to throw a baseball, how to spit sunflower seeds and he even hit a home run or two,” Ellen enlightened.
Her inspirational message came with a heavy heart as she was informed before arriving at the park that Clayton’s mother Marianne Kershaw had passed.
“One person in particular cultivated that love in Clayton, his dear momma Marianne, who moved mountains to get him to baseball practice and games. She sat front row cheering him on not so subtly and kept score in a book to keep her nerves at bay.”
Charley threw the ceremonial first pitch to a Dreamteam participant to make it official. A righty, looks like Charley may find himself on a big league mound someday, but on this day there was no moment or mound bigger.