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When the D-backs approached Justin Upton with the idea to help build a field for underprivileged youth in downtown Phoenix, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The only concern Arizona’s All-Star right fielder had: his lack of a construction resume.
“I said, ‘I can’t do it with my bare hands, but if you get somebody to build it, I’d love to be a part of it,’” Upton said Thursday, when he saw his goal come to fruition with the opening of Justin Upton Field at University Park in Phoenix.
“This is an awesome opportunity,” Upton said. “I’m excited about this field being here, and I’m looking forward to kids being able to come out here and play on this field, look up to me and really enjoy the game of baseball and learn some things about life.”
Upton understands the benefits of the field better than anyone, as a product of Major League Baseball’s RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program. He noted his plans to stop by the park to watch some youth baseball on his way to Chase Field this summer.
The D-backs have partnered with Arizona Public Service (APS) for the construction of the “Diamonds Back” fields, and CEO Don Brandt was on hand at the ceremony, praising Upton’s charitable work.
“It’s fitting that this field bears the name of one of baseball’s best young players,” Brandt said. “By attaching his name to this field, Justin has shown again he’s not just an All-Star on the field, but he’s a champion in the community.”
Brandt joked that the field — with a new electronic scoreboard, roofed dugouts, a dirt infield and finely cut outfield grass — is the second nicest in Phoenix, behind only Chase Field, which sits about two miles down the road.
The 31 “Diamonds Back” fields throughout the state have been built with aid from APS, local businesses and donations from players.
“Generations of kids — thousands and thousands of children — will be able to play in first-class facilities like the one we’re here for today because of the Diamondbacks’ commitment to getting it right,” Stanton said.