Imagine your young baseball infielder charging a grounder and the ball takes a kangaroo hop and hits the player in the neck or face.
That scary scenario is what players can encounter while playing on the worn fields at the Goleta Valley South Little League complex.
The Junior Division field, which is shared by the Santa Barbara Grizzlies Baseball Club, San Marcos High lower level teams, and the Santa Barbara Adult Baseball League, is in dire need of upgrading.
Tom Myers, an area scouting supervisor for the Chicago Cubs who also operates the Grizzlies baseball program, is spearheading a Gofundme fundraising campaign to pay for much-needed repairs to improve all the fields at the GVSLL facility and make them safer for everyone.
The fundraising goal is $5,000.
“The field of play is quite dangerous now,” said Myers of the Junior Division diamond. “It’s gotten a lot of use and it’s aging. The infield needs a bunch of dirt to level it out. There’s a lip because of the lack of dirt.
“A kid will hit a ball in front of home plate and it will ricochet into the outfield — it’s like a ramp. Infielders are taking balls off their neck, and balls are bouncing over their heads because they’re not getting clean hops. That’s dangerous.”
Because there was no Little League season last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Myers believes fundraising efforts and support fell off.
“They didn’t have Opening Day last year, which is a big fundraising day for them,” he said of the GVSLL. “And community support in general might have dissipated.”
Youth baseball has thrived in the community. Programs have helped develop players to move on and compete at the next level.
“I see the value of youth baseball in town, and right now baseball is strong locally,” Myers said. “A lot of kids playing at the high schools have gone through the (Grizzlies) program. These guys have future opportunities in college ahead of them.
“I’ve been very fortunate to run my summer program out of (the GVSLL Junior field) during the COVID times, playing with cohort restrictions,” he added. “I have a 14U group that still has a team there.
“I figured since I’m heavily involved, I’m trying to get community interest in what I’m doing.”
Other improvements the GVSLL baseball facility needs include:
— Foul Ball Backstop Fencing — The fencing has several large gaps in the chain-link, which can cause severe injury to bystanders if a ball flies through.
— Batting cage – The Junior batting cage needs maintenance, including new hitting mats, repairing large holes in the safety netting, and safety wraps for poles.
— Field maintenance – The Junior field needs annual seeding, weed abatement, fertilization, and tree trimming beyond the outfield fence.
— Pitcher’s mound – Clay and bricks for the pitcher’s mound and batter’s box need to be purchased on a regular basis.
— L-Screens and safety nets need to be updated.
“As a community of baseball families, alumni and fans, I hope we can come together to make financial contributions to the field that means so much to us,” Myers said.