Vintage baseball benefits Fraser playground project | SkyHiNews.com

Vintage baseball benefits Fraser playground project

Anna Winkel
Sky-Hi News Contributor

Baseball enthusiasts and historians both have reasons to converge on the Fraser Valley Sports Complex Saturday afternoon for the area's first Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association (CVBBA) game.

The CVBBA, founded in 1993, brings baseball to life as it was originally played in Colorado during the late 1800s.

"It was a way for the different towns — especially in the high country, with the miners and such — to get together and enjoy a little competition," said Chuck "Suds" Knezevich, CVBBA Commissioner.

America's pastime may have evolved during the past 150 years, but fans attending Saturday's game can expect some familiarities: peanuts and Cracker Jacks, as well as some uniquely 1860s sights, like an umpire with a 6-gun to keep the players in line.

“We teach people about baseball and how the game was played back then. We are competitive but the object really is to entertain.”
Chuck “Suds” Knezevich
CVBBA Commissioner

"We teach people about baseball and how the game was played back then. We are competitive but the object really is to entertain," said Knezevich.

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Old school spectacle

The game is part theater and part sport; costumes include period-appropriate uniforms with suspenders. Bats must be made from wood, and the rules and regulations used were adopted by the National Association of base-ball players in 1863.

"Staff was familiar with Vintage Baseball Organizations and had discussed this type of potential fundraiser. We thought it would be a really neat family event for the community," said Scott Ledin, director of Parks and Recreation for the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District.

Proceeds from the game will go toward a new playground to replace the one located at the center of the Fraser Valley sports complex. Tickets cost $6 per person or $20 for a family of four, and $3 for each additional family member. Concessions purchased — baseball fare including hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, and other snacks — support the playground project as well.

"We'll make sure we put on a good show because people are paying to see us," said Knezevich.

New playground, local history

The decision to replace the playground area was due in part to its age and in part to meet American Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, which were revised in March 2012. The playground was built 1996 and is beginning to show significant wear-and-tear. FVRMD officials estimate that 60,000 to 70,000 visitors use the sports complex annually.

"We knew that we needed to make changes," said Ledin. "So we said, 'If we're going to make changes, let's create something different from your typical playground … We wanted to make something that stands out."

The design for the new playground incorporates Grand County's history. Visitors playing there will be able to hide in a tee-pee, catch a train or drive a stagecoach. The hope is to capture kids' imaginations while they are getting exercise and fresh air.

The Grand County Historical Association will write interpretive signs to give the history elements more depth.

"We wanted it to be educational, to relate to the cultural heritage of our community, along with it being super cool and super fun for kids to play on," said Ledin. "The sports complex is already a regional draw. We want people to say, 'We gotta go check out that new playground.'"

Fundraising momentum

The increased size, ADA-compliant surface, and cultural heritage elements of the proposed playground are projected to cost $787,000. In addition to Saturday's fundraiser, the FVMRD is selling cookbooks of local recipes for $20. Cash donations from individuals and families in the community thus far total almost $10,000.

The Fraser Valley Recreation Foundation board has also been busy writing grants. Along with local support from The Grand Foundation, the Grand County Commissioners, The Town of Winter Park, and $105,000 of pledged in-kind work and supplies from area businesses, the Freeport McMoRan Social Investment Program(the Henderson Mine) awarded them $50,000 in the first quarter of this year. That was followed by a $50,000 challenge grant from the Gates Family Foundation last month.

"We had a site visit with them [the Gates Family Foundation] and they were so impressed with the project and all the current amenities at the ball field, hockey rink, and community gardens, the grant coordinator encouraged us to increase our funding request," said Lisa Waldorf, board member for the Fraser Valley Recreation Foundation.

Now they are preparing for an Aug. 27 deadline for a GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado) grant for over $200,000. If the grant application is successful and there is enough local support, the new playground will be installed in 2015.

Those who want to contribute but can't attend the vintage baseball game on Saturday can send donations directly to the FVRF (Fraser Valley Recreation Foundation), P.O. Box 1331, Winter Park, CO, 80482.

If you go

What: Colorado Vintage Baseball Association Baseball Game

When: Saturday, July 26, gates open at noon, game begins at 1 p.m.

Where: Fraser Valley Sports Complex

Cost: $6 per ticket or $20 for a family of four, $3 each additional family member

To Help: Can’t attend? Donate to the playground project: FVRF, PO Box 1331, Winter Park, CO 80482

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