Officials from the Cincinnati Reds and the Reds Community Fund made the announcements during a press conference May 2 at the Batavia Township Community Center.
Bob Castellini, president and CEO of the Reds, Charley Frank, executive director of the Reds Community Fund and several Reds players including Jay Bruce, who help fund the new field spoke at the event.
“I am here as a fulfillment to a commitment,” Castellini said at the press conference. “And that was to greatly expand the work the Reds Community Fund does in Clermont County.”
Castellini explained that several months ago he spoke at an event in Clermont County, and he became aware that the Reds Community Fund could do more in the area.
He said one of the first people involved with his commitment was Dean Gregory Sojka of University of Cincinnati Clermont College, who saw a need for a baseball field for the Clermont Cougars baseball team.
The collegiate team has been practicing and playing games in Blue Ash Ohio because they do not have access to regulation baseball fields close to the college’s campus.
Castellini said the field renovations at the Batavia Township Community Center will transform the existing field, which was designed for recreational and little league games, into a collegiate competition field complete with dugouts, a grass infield and more.
Castellini commended Jay Bruce for making it possible for the field to be renovated in the county.
“He committed a portion of his contract to the community fund,” Castellini said about Bruce.
Bruce spoke at the event and explained that he wanted the field to be named after Brian Wilson, who recruited Bruce and was his first impression of the Cincinnati team. Wilson, who passed away in 2006, spent 13 years with the Reds as a player, coach and scout.
“It’s the least I could to to dedicate this field to him,” Bruce said.
Batavia Township Trustees have been working with officials from the Reds as well as Sojka for months to make the community center the site of a field for the college team.
The field is scheduled to be complete and ready for games by the 2013 season.
“Thousands of kids will benefit from your work,” Sojka said. “They’ll have a true home field.”
The Clermont Cougars baseball team attended the event and were able to thank those involved in making the project happen.
“It’s going to be amazing not having to drive down 275 to get to our games,” Jesse Inskeep, a pitcher on the team, said. “It’s going to feel more like a college atmosphere.”
Mike Sechrist, an outfielder, said he looks forward to playing on the field and taking care of it.
“We greatly appreciate it,” Sechrist said. “We’re excited to have a place to practice and a place to call home.”
Batavia Township Trustees also worked with officials from the Reds Community Fund to bring the Reds Rookie Success League to the county.
“We’re all really excited about it,” Batavia Township Trustee Jim Sauls said about the Reds involvement in the county. “We are getting a lot of use out of the fields now. I think it is really good for the township.”
Previously held in Warren County, Reds officials decided to move the league to an area it has not been held.
“Clermont County has been a phenomenal partner,” Charley Frank, executive director of the Reds Community Fund, said. “We are excited to move the program from Warren to Clermont County.”
The Reds Rookie Success League is a multi-week baseball camp that incorporates character-based curriculum with fundamental baseball instruction.
The league is intended for boys and girls who would not otherwise have an opportunity to participate in an instructional baseball camp. Participants will be bussed in from several locations and will have an opportunity to work with Reds players, coaches and other volunteers.
“That’s our inspiration,” Frank said. “To include those kids who need the program.”
The Reds Rookie Success League will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays from June 11 to July 3 at the Batavia Township Community Center.
Frank said they will be recruiting participants from across Clermont County and will also need volunteers to help each day.
For more information about the Reds Rookie Success League contact Katie Crowl at Kcrowl@reds.com or (513) 765-7234 or Gary Wilkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or (513) 307-2538. To volunteer, contact Rex Parsons at (513) 732-3888.