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A Day In The Park


Hjelte Sports Center

16200 Burbank Blvd., Encino

Size: 8 acres.

Facilities: Four unlit baseball diamonds, partially landscaped field.

Hours: 8 a.m. to dusk daily.

Information: (818) 989-8190.

In Encino, as part of the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area, almost centered between Hayvenhurst Avenue and the San Diego Freeway, Hjelte Park is tucked behind a hedge of brush that lines Burbank Boulevard. In fact, park maintenance workers say many people stop them for directions to Hjelte Park, which, except for a small entrance, is completely hidden from the roadway.

Despite its obscurity, Hjelte Park is the site of some of the most popular adult baseball and softball leagues and typically has as many as 16 games a day on its four diamonds. The park is fenced in by the dam on one side and by brush and shrubbery on its three other sides.

"It's a great place to play a competitive game of softball," said Darin Scates of Canoga Park, who has been involved in league play at the park for several years. "And I feel good bringing my kids to watch me play because the park is so private and removed from outside traffic."

When baseball and softball leagues are not using the field, model-airplane buffs use it to test remote-controlled aircraft, maintenance workers said.

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