ANAHEIM -- Angels center fielder Torii Hunter has always made it a priority to give back to the community, especially because he grew up in a rough neighborhood in Pine Bluff, Ark. Hunter will again show his giving side when he takes the field on Friday with 50 children at the grand opening of the new Torii Hunter Field in Placentia, Calif. Hunter will sign autographs for the children and meet local city leaders and project managers who helped make the project a possibility.
"I'm going to meet all the kids and mingle," Hunter said. "I'm just going to be there. I have a couple of fields around the country and this one is special for me, too." The dream ball field, which is valued at more than $500,000, was made possible by Hunter's recent $50,000 donation, along with a matching gift from the Angels Baseball Foundation. The project was launched in 2007 by Magical Builders, a non-profit organization founded by Christy Frank and Jon Frank. For Hunter, he became involved in the project as a way to give back to the local community, which has seen problems with gang activity. "They told me the situation with some of the gangs and the situation out there," Hunter said. "I just wanted to get some of the kids involved to help get them off the streets and away from that." Hunter said his own experiences of using baseball as way to stay off the streets was a major reason why he wanted to help with this project that benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of Brea-Placentia-Yorba Linda and the Angels' Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities League. "In the summertime, you have so much time on your hands because there's no school," Hunter said. "Baseball is one of those things that helped me stay off the streets during summertime." Hunter is scheduled to speak at the dedication ceremony, along with the Franks, and Nathan Chappell, who represents the Boys and Girls Clubs of Placentia-Brea-Yorba Linda.
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.