By R.S. Rod
“Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.” – Yogi Berra
The Coronavirus pandemic has obviously (and sadly) affected communities throughout the world. Our city, Oxnard (located in Ventura County in Southern California), has also been afflicted by the scourge which is COV-19. Optimistically, it will soon start to dissipate and life can begin to resemble of a bit of normalcy. This article won’t dwell on the negative realities of the pandemic and how it has affected our city. Rather, I decided to cobble together a few words to thank a few people (besides the brave health care professionals who continue to battle with expressions of determination under their protective masks) I recently ran into while going on a walk around the neighborhood streets.
Durley Park is a local park in Oxnard which has three baseball fields. Sunset Little League is an organization made up of volunteers to operate, manage and coach many teams at Durley which participate in Little League Baseball. Sunset has a long and proud history as a participant in Little League Baseball. In fact, one of our teams from the 1972 season made it to the Senior League World Championship game in Gary, Indiana. Unfortunately, the ’72 team lost that game to Taiwan-Taipei in a controversial match-up only to become world runner-ups.
A few weeks back Sunset was informed by Little League Baseball to postpone the pending season due to obvious concerns about the pandemic. Certainly a sound decision–uniforms were folded and put away for another day.
In the last few weeks most of us throughout the country adhered to “Stay At Home” orders issued by states’ authorities. I too adhered to those orders and only wandered out in my protective masks solely for the purposes of buying food or going on walks (we in California were allowed to go outside to exercise as long as we maintained social distancing standards). While driving to and from a few grocery stores recently I noticed many parks in our town whose lawns hadn’t been mowed seemingly in weeks by city maintenance crews. I assumed the lack of scheduled maintenance at the parks had something to do with current, unfortunate events. Yet, that has not been the case in the last couple of months at Durley Park. For the most part the park’s baseball fields and surrounding grassy area have been well-maintained.
While going on my daily stroll along the park a few days ago I noticed the doors at the offices of Sunset Little League were opened. I wandered over and approached a few men I know who were there and asked why the offices were opened since the season was suspended. While we all maintained our social distances, they informed me they had just finished cutting the lawns at the three baseball fields and also mowed the lawns in the park in general; using the two lawn mower tractors owned by Sunset Little League. Besides maintaining the baseball fields these three men have taken it upon themselves to cut the grass in the entire expansive park to maintain a level of beauty and normalcy in our Oxnard neighborhood. I thanked them, continued my walk and when I returned home I decided their efforts should be acknowledged.
Therefore, a special thank you to the volunteers who have helped maintain our park during the crisis: Sunset Little League President Andrew Arreola and the two affectionately nicknamed “Forrest Gumps” who have over-achieved and spent countless hours maintaining the diamonds, Leonard Romo and Steve Dueñas. Leonard has worn many baseball caps at Sunset since 1986. He volunteered as team manager, coach and field maintenance guru for decades. The playing fields have been maintained and cared for due to his vision, guidance, generous nature and insistence the Oxnard community youth have a cool field on which to play ball. Steve, besides assisting Leonard in maintaining and caring for the fields specifically and the park grounds in general is the eyes and ears of the park. He diligently takes daily walks within the park to insure things such as graffiti and other issues are addressed and removed immediately by contacting proper authorities. Way to step up for the neighborhood! Your efforts are very much appreciated.