The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Online Fundraising Campaign Seeks to Renovate South Bronx Ball Fields

By Eddie Small | July 14, 2016 4:58pm
 Kids from Graffiti 2 Community Ministries played at the St. Mary's Park ball field on Thursday morning.
Kids from Graffiti 2 Community Ministries played at the St. Mary's Park ball field on Thursday morning.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MOTT HAVEN — A South Bronx softball coach hopes to renovate uneven infields and outfields, fences pockmarked with holes, old benches and patchy grass at the baseball and softball fields in St. Mary's Park using a new online fundraising site.

Michelle Gibbs, who coaches a co-ed softball team at Mott Haven Community High School, has launched a $2,000 fundraising campaign on the website FixAField to help give the fields at St. Mary's a major overhaul. The campaign has raised $874 of its $2,000 goal so far.

This year was the first season for the Mott Haven Community High School softball team, and it ended with the team's first trip to the playoffs, according to FixAField.

“We are hoping to improve the field that these kids will be playing on and continue to build the game in the inner city,” the fundraising site reads.

Gibbs described the South Bronx as “very neglected” when it comes to public parks and hopes to complete many of the improvements at St. Mary’s before spring.

“It would just be so nice to have something that’s actually nice without having to worry about children potentially getting hurt from uneven fields and broken fences and things along those lines,” Gibbs said.

The coach said she has tried to get in touch with the Parks Department about improving the fields but has not heard back from anyone and decided to try using FixAField after hearing about the site from a friend.

The Parks Department is not involved with the FixAField campaign but recognizes the need for improvements at St. Mary’s Park, and officials are seeking the funding to make them, according to a statement from the agency.

FixAField just launched this year and is based out of Austin, Texas, according to Founder and CEO Mike Gigliotti.

FixAField Co-Founder Scott Barry, who lives in Astoria, said the site had recently registered fields from California and Massachusetts as well, but the ones at St. Mary’s were the organization's first big project.

He stressed that the main goal of the St. Mary's effort would be getting the infield and outfield leveled so that kids could have an easier time playing ball.

“If you’ve ever played baseball, it’s no fun playing when you’re not sure where a ground ball is going to be bouncing or where a ball in the outfield is going to be going,” he said.

Barry said he is excited to try expanding the site's reach throughout New York City, specifically to a field near him in Rainey Park.

“The overall goal for us is to just get as many fields across the country involved in raising money to beautify the fields,” he said. “We grew up playing baseball, and we played on some amazing fields and then some ones that really stink. The amazing ones really sit with you.”

Children from Graffiti 2 Community Ministries were using the fields in St. Mary's on Thursday morning, and Camp Director Josh Johnson said he was enthusiastic about the potential for improvements to arrive, namely leveling the infield and outfield.

His son Noah Johnson, 13, was excited about the possibility as well, saying that improved fields could also help improve his batting average.

"If you hit just a single, it turns into an out," he said, "because the grass is so high it slows the ball down."