Lowe's employees improve Pasco ballpark

Employees from a Pasco home improvement store helped make a run-down baseball diamond sparkle this week.

Each day since Saturday, five and 10 workers from the Lowe's store on Road 68 volunteered to work on the Babe Ruth League park.

Store manager Carlos Barrington said the crew has put in about 400 hours at Walters Field on West Washington Street.

They washed and painted the concession stand and the scorekeeper's box, painted the dugouts and resurfaced the pitcher's mound and home plate.

They expect to finish just in time for the age 15-and-under state tournament that starts Monday.

"We want it to look presentable when the other cities come in," Barrington said. "Nobody had really given it a lot of love, so we went in there and did it."

The improvements at the ballpark, where kids ages 12 to 15 play, were part of Lowe's Heroes program.

Each year, the Pasco store and others picks a community project to help. Last year, store employees made improvements at Peanuts Park in downtown Pasco.

The employees volunteer their time and the company pays for supplies.

Many projects are intended to help veterans groups and young people, Barrington said.

"The company has challenged us to be community minded and civic minded," he said. "We try to look at where things are needed and how we can serve."

Walters Field had been through a tough run recently.

The city of Pasco tore down its bleacher seats in February.

"They were unsafe," said City Manager Gary Crutchfield. "They didn't meet current standards."

So Pasco Babe Ruth President Michele Peiffer said the help from Lowe's was much appreciated.

"They're doing a great job," she said. "It looks awesome."

The league leases the ballpark property from the city. But the league is responsible for all the upkeep of the field, which Peiffer said hasn't seen major improvements in at least 30 years.

"When you only have four or five parents come out and help, it's lot of work," she said.

Babe Ruth player Joshua Rosenbaum, 14, said the field is much smoother after the Lowe's employees helped out. He expects it to attract new players to the league, which dropped down to three teams this season.

"It looks really good," he said. "The players are gonna love it next year."

The ballpark still faces some challenges. Peiffer said it now has seating for about 20 people, down from 250 before the bleachers were taken out.

She said they are going to borrow bleachers from the nearby Little League fields during next week's tournament. But a long-term solution is needed.

"It's going to be, like, $50,000 to get new bleachers in," she said.

Anyone interested in helping the league, can reach her at 539-8611.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom