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West Valley Focus

GRANADA HILLS : Little League Field in Need of Quake Repair

October 11, 1994|ERIC SLATER

It's hard to believe some of the greatest Little Leaguers on Earth once took batting practice at this ballpark. Cracks line the stucco walls of the dugouts. Swaths of infield are more gravel and dirt than grass. The clubhouse is no more.

The Granada Hills Little League baseball field was clean and green in 1964, when the previous year's world champs moved from a nearby park to practice under the looming Los Angeles Department of Water and Power transmission towers.

By 1994, the field in the 16000 block of Rinaldi Street was in serious disrepair, but at least the green-and-white buildings stood. Then came the Northridge earthquake.

When the temblor hit, the clubhouse collapsed, as did a 500-foot-long block wall. Two dugouts were severely cracked and two others were damaged. Pipes broke, grass dried up and the taps in the two snack bars began dispensing brown water.

Parents and players worked quickly after the Jan. 17 quake, shoring up structures and removing enough rubble so teams could play on the four diamonds.

Now that baseball season is over, the dust has settled and the extent of the damage has become clear.

"That earthquake messed us up," said Joe Cook, who manages a team of 11- and 12-year-olds.

Cook, who learned to hit a curve ball at the field in the early 1970s, now manages his 12-year-old son Chris' team. And he, his wife Sue and other son Ryan spend much of their free time refurbishing the battered park, along with several other players and parents.

"I think we have the people to get the job done," said league president Irwin Rosenberg. "It's dollars we need."

Fifty thousand of them. Big money to a Little League that operates on a yearly budget of about $65,000.

"It costs us $10,000 a season just for baseballs," Rosenberg said.

Officials have decided the restrooms are too badly damaged to be open next year without repair. The clubhouses need more, as does the sprinkler system. And the 1995 season is looming, with registration beginning later this month and tryouts taking place in January.

A local physician has offered $5,000 for rebuilding, Rosenberg said, but more money as well as materials and equipment are needed.

Those interested in making a donation or pitching in to help can call Rosenberg at (818) 368-8441.

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