The Twins baseball season ended Tuesday, but the team’s volunteer efforts continued the next day in St. Louis Park.
About 60 volunteers from the Twins organization and Toro Co., a Bloomington-based manufacturer of landscape equipment, renovated three ball fields in Dakota Park, 27th Street and Dakota Avenue S.
The foundation arms of both groups donated $20,000 to the city toward the renovation. St. Louis Park Council Member Thom Miller accepted the check at a presentation and thanked volunteers.
“There have been times, because of the wetness, that they haven’t been able to use the field,” said Judson McNeil, president of the Toro Foundation and manager of Toro’s giving program. “This was a much-needed project, and we’re just happy we have the personnel and staff available to come here and help.”
The park’s baseball diamond and two softball fields are some of the most used in the city, project leaders said. The diamond is also home to the St. Louis Park High School varsity team.
This was the eighth year that the two organizations have partnered to renovate city fields, said Stephanie Johnson, senior manager of community relations for the Twins.
McNeil said the job relies on “skills-based volunteerism” — the Twins provide their groundskeeping expertise and Toro brings the turf and field equipment. Some volunteers came earlier in the week to prepare the fields and drop off tools.
Larry DiVito, the Twins’ head groundskeeper, led volunteers Wednesday through the different tasks. He said that early October is the best time to do major renovations on ball fields, after the baseball season ends but before the ground freezes.
“A common problem all over the country is, you get a lot of people playing baseball and not enough time to do maintenance on the fields,” he said.
Volunteers, armed with garden hoes and shovels, removed overgrown grass from the edges of the infield. Another group excavated home plate and planned to rebuild the pitcher’s mound.
In left field, where the ground was soggy from rainfall earlier in the week, crew members were on their knees installing an underground pipe to drain excess water.
Meanwhile, other volunteers used paint rollers and brushes to add a fresh coat of brown paint to the dugouts and storage shed. T.C. Bear, the Twins’ fuzzy ursine mascot, led warmup stretches and motivated the crew throughout the chilly morning.
Later in the day, volunteers planned to move to the softball fields to level the infield and remove and replace sod.
Branden Happel, public relations manager for Toro, spent the first part of the day painting the dugout on the first base side of the diamond. He said the renovations are “really providing young people of all ages a place where they can play and be active.”
Miguel Otárola 612-673-4753