Rockies and CPRA keep baseball dreams alive in Colorado – Colorado Parks and Recreation Association
The baseball strike ended the Colorado Rockies’ baseball season and closed Mile High Stadium, but 48 young players–boys and girls ages 6-13–kept baseball fever alive in Colorado, thanks to the Colorado Rockies Baseball Skills Challenge.
The day before the Baseball Skills Challenge state finals, the Rockies vs. Reds game was canceled due to the Major League baseball strike, and Mile High Stadium was not available. But the 264 complimentary tickets for finalists, parents, and Colorado Parks and Recreation Association volunteers had been distributed.
Proving that “it ain’t over till it’s over,” the finals were moved to deKoevend Park in Littleton and held on August 15. The change of location didn’t lessen the enthusiasm and energy of either the participants or the spectators.
The program was run for the first time this year through a grant provided by the Colorado Rockies and produced by the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA). Participants in the finals won their local and sectional competitions–proving their skills in running, throwing, and hitting and outscoring more than 3,000 participants–to earn the right to compete for the state championship.
The concept of statewide or national competitions in youth baseball skills is not new. But in Colorado, the Rockies have stirred up a whirlwind of baseball interest. With a new professional baseball team in its second season and the new Coors Field to open this April, the time was right for the Rockies and CPRA to join forces and reach out to aspiring young players.
Fine Tuning by the Rockies
Plans for the competition began in 1992, long before the first Rockies player was even drafted. But it wasn’t until after the team’s first season that the details of the partnership began to unfold. CPRA presented the program, offered operational details, and outlined a pro forma budget. The Rockies then fine-tuned the program to meet some of the organization’s needs and provided a support grant to fund the project.
Rockies Director of Community Services Roger Kinney and JoAnn Gould who became state director at the South Suburban Park and Recreation District provided leadership for the program, which began with 52 park and recreation agencies holding local competitions.
All participants–more than 3,000 children–received a certificate signed by Rockies Manager Don Baylor. Separate divisions were offered for boys and girls. In each division, the top three scores received ribbons at the local level and plaques at the state finals. For the championship, each participant received three E Rockies tickets, plus a shirt and a cap.
While some fans across the country are waiting for the return of baseball, as far as they are concerned in Colorado, it never left…thanks to the commitment of the Rockies and CPRA and the dreams of 48 young baseball hopefuls.
COPYRIGHT 1995 National Recreation and Park Association
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