October 17, 2019
Community members across Benicia are rooting for the revitalization of Fitzgerald baseball field following a show-stopping $150,000 grant awarded to Benicia Little League by the Valero Energy Foundation at this weeks Benicia City Council meeting. The grant is a significant step towards efforts to bring the beloved “Fitz” field, located at East H & East 2nd Street, back to its glory for generations to come.
Fitzgerald Field has hosted baseball games dating back to 1906 and remains an important historical marker for Benicia residents. Over the years, wear and tear of the stadium has taken its toll and a 2018 safety inspection discovered structural issues that resulted in the removal of the roof over the grandstands and the facility being closed for an extended period of time. The stadium has since reopened, but it appears to be only a shadow of the classic facility it once was.
Benicia Little League joined forces with the community to spearhead a campaign to organize residents to seek donations from local families and financial support from the City of Benicia to make needed safety upgrades and to rebuild the grandstand and its roof while keeping the historical look of the stadium.
Benicia Little League President Robb Trost worked with Benicia’s Valero Refinery knowing they have a track record of making meaningful contributions to the Benicia community and many of their employees have raised their family in Benicia playing baseball at Fitz. “Benicia Little League has made the renovation of Fitzgerald Field a top priority and this grant from Valero will help us bring Fitz back to its original glory,” said Trost. “There is more work to do and funds to raise but this significant grant is what we needed to show the city we are ready to partner with them on making the project a reality.”
More than 450 Benicia families participate in Little League and the “Old Timers” adult baseball league also uses the field for league games and tournaments. The renovations and upgrades are estimated to cost more than one million dollars and Benicia Little League is committed to working with the city and stakeholders to ensure the community will realize a redeveloped field residents and visitors will value and enjoy for many decades.
The grant by Valero Energy Foundation helps make this dream a reality and was made as part of a broader celebration of the refinery’s 50 years of operating in Benicia. Don Wilson, Vice President and General Manager of the Benicia Refinery, presented the check to Trost and a standing-room-only crowd of young little league players, their families, and refinery employees, at the city council meeting.
Watch the Little League check presentation.