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NOTEBOOK : Coca-Cola Pops for Improvements at Harvard Park

June 27, 1993|SEAN WATERS and CHARLES SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Eric Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers knows it can be difficult to field a ground ball on an infield pitted with small stones and gravel. Davis played shortstop for a Little League all-star team at Harvard Recreation Center and used to try to field bad-hop ground balls off his chest.

"If you can field there, you can field anywhere," said Davis, who now plays left field for the Dodgers.

The condition of four baseball fields at Harvard Park has improved since the days when Davis was a 12-year-old and are expected to get better during the next year.

Harvard Park will receive funds to renovate the four fields through Coca-Cola-Homers for America. The grant will be part of the more than $400,000 awarded to youth organizations nationwide this year through the three-year program conducted by Coca-Cola and major league baseball.

Representatives from the Dodgers, Rebuild America, Los Angeles Recreation and Parks and local Coca-Cola distributors were present for Wednesday's announcement.

Last year the program generated $560,000 to renovate 14 baseball fields in 12 cities nationwide. Coca-Cola offered $5,000 for every home run hit during all major and minor league contests on the Fourth of July and an additional $5,000 for every home run hit during the 1992 World Series.

Davis hit a homer on the Fourth of July last year, one of 96 hit that day. With the addition of expansion teams the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies, the program expects to surpass last year's total. The Dodgers play in Montreal on Independence Day.

"I think it is great to see more people caring and having a heart," Davis said, surrounded by Little Leaguers who wanted his autograph. "I think it is commendable to have Coca-Cola, the Dodgers and the community wanting to help out. It is not easy to get people to help out down here."

The program hopes to raise enough funds for Harvard Park to grade the infields, re-sod the outfields, install a sprinkler system and outfield fencing and replace the backstops, according to Coca-Cola public relations director Mark Preisinger.

The Harvard Park Little League, Manual Arts varsity and junior varsity baseball teams and club soccer teams currently use the fields throughout the year.

For the past 13 years, Davis, teammate Darryl Strawberry and other major and minor leaguers have participated in off-season workouts during the first week of January at Harvard Park. The former Fremont High star expects the improved facilities will attract more children to play baseball and plans to contribute his free time to make the program a success.

"I grew up here, I played here and I still work out here," Davis said. "When I retire, I hope to become a Little League manager and finance a league with 25 or 30 teams with real divisional races. I'd like to see a place where kids from Manchester to Van Ness parks can come and play their championship games."

*

Watts basketball: The semifinal round basketball game between Dorsey High and Fairfax High was costly for both teams.

Defending champion Dorsey--which defeated Long Beach Jordan, 73-52, to win the title last year--lost to Fairfax, 41-36, June 20.

Point guard Terrell McKnight, who will have a big responsibility trying to replace former backcourt mate Kenya Wilkins, led the Dons with 19 points and six assists.

However, Fairfax suffered an even bigger loss.

Shooting guard Terryl Woolery will be out six to eight weeks after breaking his left arm.

"This is a very big loss for the team because (Woolery) is one of the main players in the system," said Terrel Ray, varsity football coach and basketball assistant coach.

"(Woolery) is a starter and it's not going to be easy finding a replacement for him because he can play shooting guard, small forward and power forward."

Although the former Los Angeles High star should be fully recovered by the beginning of the '93-94 basketball season, the accident is certainly a major setback for Woolery and Fairfax.

Woolery suffered the injury after drawing an offensive charge and using his arms to break his fall.

The 6-foot-4 senior averaged 17 points a game last season at Los Angeles and was named to the City Times second team.

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