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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2006 > Little League International Board of Directors Attend Dedication of Eric Hilton Field in Houston

Little League International Board of Directors Attend Dedication of Eric Hilton Field in Houston

Eric Hilton delivers the ceremonial first pitch, officially dedicating the brand-new field that bears his name.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (April 25, 2006) – Flush with the fulfillment that springs from community pride, the Little League Urban Initiative, in conjunction with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, recently unveiled a new Little League field at Wharton Elementary School in Houston, the home of Neartown Little League.

The dedication ceremony for the Eric Hilton Little League Field at Wharton Elementary was attended by Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee; members of the Little League International board of directors; representatives of the city of Houston and Houston Independent School District; and David L. James, director of the Little League Urban Initiative.

“The children in this neighborhood probably wouldn’t be playing ball if we didn’t build this field,” Eric Hilton, a native Texan, former Little League coach, and trustee of the Little League Foundation for more than 30 years, said. “The Hilton Foundation is extremely pleased with the results (of the field project), and it makes me very proud to have my name on this field. It’s a fantastic honor.”

As part of a $1 million grant to Little League Baseball and Softball, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has pledged $200,000 to each of five new field projects in urban communities throughout the United States. The Wharton Elementary Field is the second Hilton Foundation-sponsored project. The first Hilton Foundation Field was dedicated in April 2005 at Tuley Park in Chicago. The next field project will begin in Bronx, N.Y., later this year.

Dr. Will Weber, president of the Neartown Little League, speaks to the crowd.

Neartown Little League – a Little League Urban Initiative participant – and Wharton Elementary, are the beneficiaries of the pristine new field with lights, bleachers, dugouts and batting cages. The local league’s 287 players come together to form 22 teams in all divisions of Little League.

“The completion of the Eric Hilton Little League Field at Wharton Elementary came as the result of teamwork and this community’s choice to make a positive impact on the young people that live in this neighborhood,” Mr. James said. “Little League Baseball and Softball commends the efforts made by the league’s volunteers on behalf of the children of Neartown Little League, and recognizes the commitments made by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the city of Houston.”

The Little League Urban Initiative provides assistance packages for eligible leagues that aid the local volunteer group with equipment acquisition, capital improvement cash grants, field improvement and renovation, access to Little League Baseball and Softball education and training programs, advocacy, and networking.

  • A component of Little League Baseball and Softball, the Little League Urban Initiative began in 1999 with programs in Los Angeles and Harlem, N.Y., and expanded to other cities in September 2000.
  • The Little League Urban Initiative is now operating in 175 leagues. Through 2005 the Urban Initiative program has participated in 11 field renovations/development projects.
  • Through 2005, the Little League Urban Initiative has yielded 2,212 teams, and has provided approximately 268,000 players the opportunity to play in the Little League program.

Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (right) chats with fellow Yale University graduate Dwight Raiford, who is a member (and past chairman) of the Little League International Board of Directors.

In 2005, Major League Baseball made its second $250,000 grant to the Little League Urban Initiative. The funding is used in support of the annual Urban Initiative Jamboree held in Williamsport, for training and education of Little League volunteers, and field renovation projects.

This spring, Little League International will host the third annual Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree. Ten Urban Initiative leagues will send regular season teams to Williamsport, site of the annual Little League Baseball World Series, to experience the thrill of a weekend of friendly games, instruction, and education.

Members of the Little League International board of directors were also in Houston, to meet and discuss preparations for the 24th International Congress, set for April 13-16, 2007.
 

Two pals on the Neartown Little League’s Astros “prepare” for the ceremonies.

The Neartown Little League includes hundreds of players, all of whom turned out for the event.

The Little League International Board of Directors attended the event, with the skyline of Houston in the distance.

Houston Astros manager Phil Garner (right) meets with Eric Hilton just before the ceremonies begin. At left is Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League International.

Eric Hilton and his family pose for a photo in front of the scoreboard bearing his name.