SEELEY – Ricky Guzman, president of the Sunbeam Little League, and his board have been busy over the past three years with upgrades to the county-owned baseball facility in Seeley. The volunteers have planted trees and installed batting cages and nets for fan protection, as there are four fields positioned back-to-back.
Guzman said before the safety nets were installed, games often resembled “dodge ball for spectators” with foul balls flying into the bleachers from the four locations.
“The parents and the community have been a tremendous support for the facilities,” Guzman said. “Right after a game, the parents grab bases and gather equipment, some jump on the golf cart with the drag and work the outfield. It is tremendous.”
Even visiting snowbirds take pride in the field. Guzman said each RV trailer park in the Valley cities have formed softball teams, and they also use the Sunbeam facilities. The snowbirds work hard each year helping with field maintenance and doing their part.
The facilities also see year-round play from local traveling teams, including softball teams, plus the grounds host tournament play year-round.
The baseball fields have served the youth of El Centro and Seeley for 50 years, giving families generations of enjoyable evenings watching children compete, learning the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Guzman said the facility is open to the public and he likes to see it being used by local businesses and charities throughout the year. The fields are easier to maintain if they are used year round and have year round care he said.
However, the Little League annual registration fees and BBQ fundraisers are not enough to provide for all the expenses needed to keep the facilities at premium playing levels.
The Sunbeam Little League board’s next push is to find funds for L screens, bleachers, drags for fields, dugout storage boxes and dugout coverage, and practice equipment.
Imperial County is pitching in to help at the suggestions of Supervisors Jack Terrazas (D-2) and Michael Kelley (D-3) who pushed for the board to approve $4,000 from Community Benefit accounts to go towards field improvements.
Ralph Cordova, Imperial County CEO, has also been supportive for the upkeep funds, too, Guzman added.
Guzman said the community should take pride in their facilities and those who work to keep it usable, such as Jimmy Abatti who spent hours leveling the field and “Luis” the park ranger at Sunbeam Lake who keeps an eye on the fields and calls when something is amiss. Because of all the work, one of the fields, the T-Ball field, is the nicest in the Valley, Guzman bragged.[envira-gallery id=”82132″]