Two revitalized little-league baseball fields gave dozens of at-risk kids reason to celebrate Saturday.
The Astros Foundation along with the Calpine Corporation funded the ball fields. To the delight of dozens of kids and parents with Lindale Little League, both fields were opened for play on Saturday at Moody Park in northeast Houston.
Parent Ramiro Cortez said this is something the kids really needed.
"Oh man, we've been needing this for years," said Cortez. "I appreciate this and all the kids are going to appreciate it as well."
Several big names, including Astros players Jose Altuve, Carlos Corporan and Astros legend Jose Cruz, showed up for the event.
Astros owner Jim Crane was also there. He said he hopes the fields will lend a helping hand in the life of at-risk kids.
"You've seen over the years, in lower income areas, they slip through the cracks," said Crane. "It looks great here today to get the kids playing baseball again and to have an opportunity to play."
Carlos Corporan, a catcher for the Astros, said he's seen first-hand what something like this can do for kids.
"It means a lot," said Corporan. "I played little league, too. That helped me to make good choices in life."
Officials with the Astros said the newly refurbished fields are all at city-owned parks. All reconstruction and additional safety features are being paid for through the Community Leaders program and completed at no cost to taxpayers, Astros officials said.
Members from Calpine presented each Lindale Little League team with batting helmets and equipment bags.
Officials with the Astros organization said the Astros Community Leaders program will invest $18 million in city-owned public youth baseball and softball fields in disadvantaged areas of Houston over the course of five years. The program is run by the Astros Foundation, the official team charity, and is a collaboration with Houston-based corporations and the city of Houston.
"The Astros' Community Leaders program is providing a tremendous service to Houston's young people at no cost to our taxpayers," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "As a former softball player, I know this program will be successful in encouraging young people to play, and I applaud the Astros and the corporations participating in this program for their community spirit and generosity."
To date, eight fields have been renovated through the Community Leaders program, with construction at additional fields already underway, officials said.