CHERRY — Ron Pittman has coached youth baseball in Cherry for nearly 50 years, and you can bet that people appreciate it.
That’s why they named the three-field complex in Cherry Township after him 23 years ago. It was with him spearheading the project that the complex became a reality with construction starting in 1987.
Now, thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Twins, two dugouts have been built on the T-ball field to protect Pittman and his young players from Mother Nature.
“I tell you what, it was pretty hot sitting out on the bench out in the sun and everything, and the kids are now out of the weather,” Pittman said. “It just looks good for the baseball program all the way around. I know a lot of the kids who are really excited about having dugouts.”
Cherry Township received $6,600 from the Twins Community Fund’s Twins Fields for Kids program which provides financial support to improve baseball and/or softball facilities for youth in the Upper Midwest and Southwest Florida. The program makes matching grants to nonprofit organizations and local government units that operate baseball and/or softball programs.
Since its inception in 1999, the program has granted more than $3.7 million to improve nearly 700 Upper Midwest and Southwest Florida ball fields.
Pittman has coached Cherry youth baseball for 48 years, and when he first started coaching the youth players played at the current Cherry High School field. Pittman said he was elected to the Cherry Township Board in 1987, and then a recreation board was formed soon after. Then, field construction began.
“We got those fields done between 1987 and 1990,” said Pittman. “It was a great honor to have this named after me. There were a lot of heartaches involved in getting this facility there. Every time I turn into the driveway I have a big smile on my face because it looks so much better than it did in 1987, when it was all nothing but swamp and brush.”
Pittman said the entire Cherry Township Board, to include Chairman Dave Leslie, Kip Borbiconi, Lauri Gunderson, Janet Zgaynor, and Connie Constantine, worked hard to make the Twins grant a reality.
Pittman was asked why he continues to coach baseball after 48 years, and he said, “It is just doing something for the kids. I plan on putting in 50 years and when I’m done I don’t know what the heck I am going to do with myself, doing it that long. It has been so much fun, and just to see all these kids grow up and now I am on the third generation of coaching the kids.
“I had the dads, now the sons and the sons have kids playing. It has really been a fun thing through the years.”
Pittman thanks the Twins’ program for making the dugouts a reality on the T-ball field.
“We really appreciate the
Twins in getting a grant from them,” said Pittman. “We just appreciate the Twins giving us the money to build the dugouts and help us continue to improve the field there. I would also like to thank everybody for putting in all the time and effort into keeping the fields up and getting it to where it is today.”
Pittman said the complex is in constant use in the summer with a Babe Ruth team, two PeeWee teams and three T-ball teams in action. In addition, fastpitch youth softball summer teams also use the facility.
“There are games on every night of the week other than Friday and the weekends, and we have three tournaments besides,” Pittman explained. “There is never a dull moment; once baseball starts on June 1, there’s a game every day other than Friday and the weekends up until the last weekend of July.”