The Arizona Diamondbacks dedicated Jackie Robinson Field in Litchfield Park on June 21, its 42nd facility as part of “Diamonds Back” Field, presented by APS.
Jackie Robinson Field is located at 14451 W. Camelback Road, Litchfield Park. Mayor Thomas Schoaf said the move reflects Litchfield Park’s attitude and beliefs.
“One of the very first activities I had when I moved here in 1980 was to be a Little League coach,” Schoaf said. “This is a very important part of our community. We’re a very inclusive community, with all ethnic backgrounds and religious creeds.
“Jackie Robinson absolutely represents the foundation and beliefs of our country. We’re happy to have his field in our community.”
D-backs, APS and city officials were on hand at the dedication ceremony, including D-backs President and CEO Derrick Hall, Dr. Charles Williams, nephew of the late Jackie Robinson, D-backs Play-by-Play Announcer Steve Berthiaume, and APS Chairman and CEO Don Brandt. The field features LED lights, which will save more than $6,000 per year in energy and maintenance costs compared to traditional sports lighting and reduce the carbon footprint by nearly 20 tons per year.
Williams spoke briefly on behalf of the family.
“I’d like to thank the Arizona Diamondbacks for the dedication of this beautiful facility for the legacy of Jackie Robinson,” Williams said.
Little Leaguer Kaleb Fisher shared his appreciation.
“I love baseball,” he said. “If it were not for Jackie Robinson, a lot of players, like myself, would not be able to play baseball. I thank the Diamondbacks for building this amazing baseball field. Jackie Robinson, I can’t wait to play on your baseball field. Thank you, Jackie Robinson, for all that you have done.”
Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier when he became the first black athlete to play in a Major League game on April 15, 1947, as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field.
D-backs Vice President of Corporate and Community Impact Debbie Castaldo said the dedication was a nine-month process and she is excited about the field’s first game.
Hall expressed a similar sentiment.
“We’re thrilled our name is associated with Jackie Robinson, forever in the future,” he said.
Every year on April 15, MLB honors Robinson’s legacy by celebrating his life, values and accomplishments. The extensive and unified league-wide show of support has included retiring Robinson’s number throughout the Majors in 1997; dedicating April 15 as Jackie Robinson Day each year since 2004; and requesting that every player and all on-field personnel wear his No. 42 during games scheduled on Jackie Robinson Day since 2009. Robinson was named Rookie of the Year in 1947, National League MVP in 1949 and became a World Series champion in 1955.
He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Since 2000, the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation has built or refurbished 42 baseball and softball fields representing a community investment in youth sports programs exceeding $10 million.
With support from APS, and charitable contributions from D-backs players, the program has allowed children from across the state to play baseball and softball at quality facilities. The fields generally feature new lights, a branded electronic scoreboard, new fencing and backstops, new irrigation and new grass and dirt, with additional support provided by local contractors and businesses.
The West Valley fields include Paul Goldschmidt Field (2017) and D-votion Field (2008), both of which are in Goodyear; and Craig Counsell Field in Buckeye (2006). D-votion Field in Goodyear’s Estrella was dedicated in the name of D-backs fans at the request of a player who donated $50,000 and wished to remain anonymous.