Scott County, Indiana, is a community that works together. When it came time to win a $50,000 grant to renovate the Austin Community Park baseball field, the Scott County community rallied together to score more votes than hometown fields in larger metropolitan areas.
“There are a lot of good people, doing a lot of good things in the community. This is just another example of that,” said Matt Bayes, Austin Middle School teacher and Austin High School varsity baseball coach. “I am confident this field will allow baseball to continue to be a game changer in the Austin community.”
Months ago, Bayes worked with several members of the community, including the Austin Park Board and the City of Austin, to apply for a $50,000 grant through the Field Refurbishment Program, sponsored by Major League Baseball and Scotts Lawn Care.
“I certainly feel there is a need in the community for this. […] The city is very deserving,” Bayes said. “There have already been some nice upgrades to the park, so hopefully this renovated field will be another way to make a positive impact in Austin.”
The Scott County community worked together to make this dream a reality — more than 350 applicants applied for the chance to have its hometown baseball field renovated by MLB and Scotts. To receive the renovation, Scott County had to compete against three other projects in Los Angeles, Kansas City, and New Jersey. The winning field was selected by the fans voting online.
The Scott County community worked together and began voting to bring the dream of a baseball field renovation home to the Austin Community Park.
“I hope this is something that the youth in our community will take pride in and use. Baseball is a great game that gives kids some positive to be involved in, especially in the summer when school is out of session. I think a state-of-the-art facility in Austin will maximize our ability to reach kids through America’s pastime,” Bayes said.
It is not just America’s pastime. Austin is steeped in baseball history. Austin has a proud baseball tradition, dating back to early 1900s with the Austin Packers, a semi-pro baseball team sponsored by Morgan’s Packing Co., now Morgan Foods. Bayes said the Austin High School baseball program has a long history of success through the leadership of Joe Shields, Kelly Baker, Ben Watts, Dan and Dave Deaton, Rick Rigel, and Jeff Barrett, among many others.
With newly leveled infield, beautiful sod laid, and material added, the Austin Community Park baseball field is one that the community can take pride in and enjoy for years to come. The Austin Middle School baseball team along with many Scott County youth baseball and softball and youth travel teams will be able to utilize the field in the weeks and months to come.
“I think the doors this opens for us to impact the lives our youth will be the biggest asset to the community,” Bayes said.