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Blue Wahoos Revive A Local Ball Park

A neighborhood park on North J Street in Pensacola got the professional treatment yesterday as members of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos grounds crew and front office spent the day revitalizing the ball park. 

Last season Ray Sayre of the Blue Wahoos won the grounds keeper of the year award in the Southern league.  Wednesday morning he and his crew were out at Terry Wayne East Park in Pensacola to give the baseball field a professional make over as part of an inner city outreach program from Major League Baseball.

RBI, Reviving Baseball in Inner cities, was established by Major League Baseball in 1989...and in those 25 years over a million kids across the country as well as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the US Virgin Islands have participated in the program. By 2010 there were over 300 RBI leagues with well over a hundred thousand players. This year the  Blue Wahoos were approached to bring the program to Pensacola. Jonathan Griffith is Executive Vice President of the Blue Wahoos and was one of the front office staff who volunteered to help out at the event. He said a group of front office, catering and ground crew staff as well as some season ticket holders came out to put in some new fences, spruce up and paint the buildings, even build a news pitcher's mound for the ball park.

And while fences and a fresh coat of paint on the field house and press box are important, building that pitcher's mound is precision work.  Head grounds keeper Sayre said the exact dimensions of the mound - 60 feet 6 inches from home plate and ten inches higher than the plate - are essential to the game.

During the morning there was a dump truck full of new dirt delivered to be spread around the park...and equipment from brought over from Bayfront Stadium to help work on the field.  Blue Wahoos  President Bruce Baldwin was dragging the infield with a tractor, and after 30 years in baseball it appeared he knew what he was doing. Baldwin said getting involved with Major League Baseballs' RBI program was a logical step for the team.

Baldwin and the rest of the volunteers worked most of the day getting Terry Wayne East Park into shape. Today, they and all the equipment are back at Bayfront Stadium getting ready for two games next week. The university of Alabama will take on Troy Tuesday...and the Blue Wahoos will play their parent club the Cincinnati Reds next Friday evening, March 28.