The kids wore wide smiles, and Dodgers T-shirts. They celebrated the new baseball field at their local park with a clinic last Saturday conducted by Dodgers alumni. The city councilman eventually left, and so did the retired players, but a generation of kids have the Dodgers to thank for a first-class place to play ball.
When Frank McCourt looks back on 2011, he probably will not wear a smile. He fought in divorce court, and in bankruptcy court. He fought his ex-wife, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, his old law firm, the Dodgers’ television partner, even the attorneys of the fan beaten nearly to death in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
However, as he prepares to surrender ownership of the team he fought so hard to keep, youths across the Southland can thank him for not pulling the plug on the Dodgers Dreamfield program. The scene last weekend at Harbor City Recreation Center was similar to ceremonies at parks and recreation centers from Northridge to Compton last year.
The Dodgers Dream Foundation built — or rebuilt — nine youth baseball fields across Southern California from 2003 to 2010. In 2011, as McCourt’s ownership collapsed, he radically accelerated the Dreamfield program. In partnership with the LA84 Foundation, which manages the surplus funds from the 1984 Olympic Games, the Dodgers Dream Foundation delivered 10 fields last year alone.