As Dr. Roy Moss walked off the newly renovated Grain Valley High School baseball field, the Grain Valley superintendent noticed a dirt clod about the size of a baseball near the dugout.
He kicked the dirt clod away from the manicured field that was dedicated before Thursday's doubleheader against Missouri River Valley Conference rival Odessa.
“Being an old baseball coach, this just warms my heart,” said Moss, as the Grain Valley School District and a $10,000 donation from Royals Charities and the Baseball Tomorrow fund made the renovation possible.
“We take a lot of pride in what we have here in Grain Valley. And we need so many things – and with the help of the Kansas City Royals Charities and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, we were able to upgrade our field.”
Which activities director Mike Tarrants said has already paid benefits.
“We've already played a game that we would not have been able to play last year,” Tarrants said, as he looked at the newly manicured and rebuilt field, which features a new mound, base paths, sod around the infield and outfield warning track areas and a sloping grade that allows games to be played as long as it is not raining during the game.
The school district applied for the grant and Marie Dispenza, the director of Royals Charities, said it met all the criteria for grant money.
“This is the best part of my job,” said Dispenza, who met with coach Mark Lyford, principal Jeremy Plowman, Tarrants and Moss in a brief pre-game ceremony. “There is a process that all grants go through. The (David) Glass (owner of the Royals) family is very generous and when they find a local high school in need, they want to do all they can to help.
“Our grants are there to help with baseball and softball fields and to help in the areas of education, children and the military. It's just great to come out to a field like this one in Grain Valley and see how excited everyone is about the renovation process.”
Long before the start of the game, Lyford and his players were taking part in pre-game warmups. When the Eagles were asked to pose for a photo behind the new pitching mound, one player quipped, “Don't mess it up. We want it to look nice in the picture.”
Lyford just smiled.
“We all take a lot of pride in the field,” the veteran baseball coach said. “When they were doing the construction on the back of the high school, they broke a water line so our sprinkler system wasn't working. We came out and watered all the new sod by hand - and we didn't mind a bit. We want this to look great this season and for a lot of seasons to come.
“Mike (Tarrants) gets out here and sees a little bare spot and tells us to make sure and take care of it. We all take pride in it.”