Ball field memorializes Little Leaguer
Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 10:18 a.m.
The Petaluma American Little League now has a sparkling new field for its “angel” to patrol.
The Little League has refurbished what it refers to as its Middle Diamond at Lucchesi Park and will dedicate it Sunday to Trevor Smith, a popular young player who was killed in a traffic incident last June. He was 13. Spurred by the Petaluma Fabulous Women, the community rallied around the Smith family, raising money to establish a Trevor Smith scholarship fund to help families in need pay for their children to play Little League baseball.
A fund-raising event in October named for Petaluma's “Angel in the Outfield” raised enough money to not only establish the scholarship fund, but also sparked an effort to create a permanent memorial for the junior high school student, who played Little League baseball in the American League.
The tribute to Trevor is bittersweet for his family — father, Joe; mother, Pam; and older brothers Tyler and Dylan.
“It is not where you want to see your child's name, but it is definitely an honor and a tribute to him,” his mother said.
“This is pretty special,” agreed his father. “It is really incredible that something honoring our son is going to be here forever.”
After the Petaluma Fabulous Women event, the Petaluma American Little League got involved, more money was raised and a plan was developed to refurbish the league's third diamond at Lucchesi, where the younger Little Leaguers play, and name it for Trevor.
“The plans evolved over time,” explained Petaluma American Little League President Thomas Perry.
The effort to re-do the diamond was a summer-long project headed by league vice-president Fred Hillard. The field was refurbished, the backstop was repaired, a new warning track was placed near both sideline fences, a new solar-powered scoreboard proclaiming the diamond Trevor Smith Field was added and many other were improvements made.
“There was an extraordinary amount of work done in a short period of time,” noted Hillard. “It is going to be a super field. It is really exciting. This is something that has been a long-time needed.”
Krista Gawronski, founder of the Petaluma Fabulous Women and a leader in organizing the Angel in the Outfield event that started the process, said the field is not only a way to honor Trevor, but will also benefit the town. “The field is a nice blessing for the community,” she said. “It always had a great potential, but the funds weren't there to develop it. Now the kids will be excited to play on that field.”
Included on the refurbished field will be a memorial to Trevor with a plaque bearing his likeness. The plaque was designed primarily by Hillard with input from the family. “It was kind and considerate of Fred to let us be a part of it,” Pam Smith said. “It is special. It went beyond my expectations.”
The original plan was to keep the project a secret and surprise Trevor's parents, but Hillard and the committee planning the project decided it would be more appropriate to have them involved.
“It was neat that Trevor's mom and dad could help design the plaque,” noted Perry.
“It was kind of a healing process for the parents,” agreed Gawronski. “I know it makes them feel proud.”
Perry explained the field will not only celebrate Trevor Smith the Little Leaguer, but Trevor Smith the person, and his spirit, enthusiasm and love for the game.
“Trevor was involved in so many aspects of the community,” noted his mother. In addition to baseball, Trevor participated in the Cinnabar Theater, loved wrestling at Kenilworth Junior High School, and was an altar boy at his church. He did it all with a smile and enthusiasm that was contagious.
“He's the kid everyone loved,” summed up Patty Buzzard, mother of one of Trevor's close friends.
The Petaluma American Little League's opening day ceremonies will be held Saturday at 8 a.m. The event has been traditionally followed by a home run derby. This year, the home run derby will be held Sunday on the Trevor Smith Field and will serve as a fund-raising event for the Trevor Smith Scholarship Fund.
The plan is for home run derby players each year to recruit sponsors for their participation with the money going to support the scholarship fund.
“Every year, it will be known as the Trevor Smith Home Run Derby,” explained Perry. “It will keep the community involved and allow us to keep the scholarship going.”
The field dedication Sunday will be held from 1 to 2 p.m.
(Contact John Jackson at johnie.jackson@ar guscourier.com)
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