(DENVER) CBS4 – Major League Baseball and the Colorado Rockies unveiled their final completed Legacy Project from the 2021 MLB All-Star Game festivities Tuesday morning. Fittingly it was renovations at the J. Churchill Owen Boys & Girls Club in Denver’s Westwood neighborhood.
That’s the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver branch the Rockies adopted, and those renovations include redoing the ballfields. Mascots were on hand on as the first pitch was thrown out and club members had a chance to run the new bases while getting in a little batting, catching and outfield practice in.
For Major League Baseball, making it one of the Legacy Projects was easy.
“This is an important year, an important milestone in our relationship with Boys & Girls Club of America. It’s our 25th anniversary of the Boys & Girls clubs being the officially charity of Major League Baseball,” MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred told the crowd.
“It has been successful because we purse fundamentally the same goals. Both the Boys & Girls Clubs and baseball want the kids to have a safe place to go. We want them to have an opportunity to participate in athletics. Every year part of our thanks to the community where the All-Star Game is held is a Legacy Project at a Boys & Girls Club and I hope that tradition continues for a really, really long time.”
Erin Porteous, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs Of Metro Denver, echoed the connection between the missions.
“Our clubs are here to create vibrant, safe and diverse communities across the city of Denver. Our Owen clubhouse sponsor, the Colorado Rockies, have played an instrumental role in support of our clubs in the Westwood neighborhood and across Denver.”
For the Rockies, they were first asked to adopt the club for 5 years, but for Rockies Owner, Chairman and CEO Dick Monfort, that wasn’t enough.
“I got to thinking about it. When you adopt something it’s not really not just for 5 years, you’re maybe only committing 5 years worth of money but it’s for life and to be quite honest, we’re thrilled that we adopted it.”
Monfort spoke of going to Boys & Girls Clubs to play sports when he was growing up north of Greeley, calling the Owen Branch an incredible place run by incredible passion.
It’s that kind of passion some former Rockies remembered about their times supporting the branch. Former players Todd Helton and Clint Barmes shared advice with the kids about being involved in sports.
“Any kind of advice I would have with our kids, and getting to the level where I was fortunate to play, you want the kids to play and be busy all the time. Play as many sports as you can. I still don’t believe you need to pick one sport and stay with it. As you get older, maybe, but as a kid, experience everything you can.”
Helton shared his advice about what it means to be a good teammate.
“Being a good teammate is the most important thing you want to be remembered for. It’s just being there for your teammates when they have a bad day and hopefully making it better.”
For the club members, having the Rockies support really means having a home. Mia has been a member of the Owen branch for 10 years and says she’s frequently asked what does it mean to her.
“It’s hard to sum up something that truly means everything to you. This club is a family, it’s a safety net and it’s an heirloom because my family, my brother and sister have all been here. I think many kids can agree when I say this place is home.”
Mia said every home needs to be nice and tidy and that’s why the remodel is so appreciated — that even things like new couches and updated computers help the members.
“As a big fan of the Rockies,” Mia said, “I’m excited and grateful that they are choosing to give back to our community. The club would not run as smoothing nor as nicely without the help of them.”
That’s a sentiment Porteous also emphasized, saying the Rockies club just represents one of the 20 clubs across the Denver area. She said it is hard to have imagined a year ago the project and unveiling would happen in person. Even while schools closed during the lockdown, the Boys & Girls Clubs kept their doors open so members had a safe place to be while parents went to work.
“As I reflect back on what’s been regarded as one of the most challenging and tumultuous years for us,” Porteous said, “I’m reminded that one of our greatest resources of strength, courage and resilience has come from the smiles, laughter and even sometimes the tears of our club members who have been coming every single day.”