Synthetic turf has been laid on the new baseball field behind the Harrisburg Boys & Girls Club.
Exuberant over fake grass? You better believe it. People are peeking at the progress being made on Berryhill Street. What was once a brown patch of dirt now has an enticing emerald carpet.
"The first time I saw it, I was excited," said Alex Berry, a member of the Boys & Girls Club and the baseball team.
A smile from kids like Berry doesn't get old for Steve Peeler. As Director of Sports Field Project Management with FIELDS, Peeler has helped built more than 50 Cal Ripken Senior Foundation fields.
"It's a good feeling because it's for community and the kids, that's the rewarding part of it," Peeler said.
Peeler said the little league field boasts Major League quality. A state-of-the-art drainage system, synthetic surface and nostalgic appeal round out a true diamond in the ruff.
The field also gives a nod to Red Sox nation with a right field version of Fenway Park's "Green Monster." The field itself has many people gawking and talking.
"I don't know what that is," yelled Damonte Porter, a youngster too young to remember our father's AstroTurf. The green sandpaper-like covered carpet was made famous in 1966 after the first fake field was unveiled in Houston's Astrodome. Of course, regional sports fans remember the dual-purpose stadiums in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Boy, what a difference in the new millennium.
Peeler said the new-age stuff has long synthetic fibers consisting of plastic and nylon. Each blade is covered with antimicrobial protection. Sand and recycled rubber particles fill in the gaps to mimic real grass.
"In some areas, it's going to be better than natural grass because of the ball bounce," Peeler added.
Predictable hops will instill good baseball fundamentals and, in turn, better players. But when you're a kid like Porter, all you notice is the fancy appeal.
"It just looks better than any other baseball field I would be on," he said.
Even though their slogan is, "Good stuff Cheap," Ollie's Bargain Outlet donated $1.2 million for the project - which is good - far from cheap. The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation spearheaded planning and added sponsorship.
Just this summer, the field was rundown and drab. The new field presents both change and an opportunity to teach inner-city youth discipline and sportsmanship, and gives them something to be proud of. That's why Porter promised to make sure this nice field stays nice.
"[Kids] will take care of this one," he said. "The last one we had they didn't take care of it all."
He'll get an opportunity to play on the field this spring when the grand opening is scheduled.