submitted by John Bradley,
Visalia Parks & Recreation
The second phase of the Visalia Riverway Sports Park is scheduled to open on Saturday, June 5, 2010, at the new four field youth baseball complex. The gates open at 5:00 pm and dedication ceremonies begin at 6:45 pm. The gala event will feature games, food, music, information booths, and will conclude with the National Little League Championship game scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm.
As part of the dedication ceremony, the newest members of the Pillars of Fame will also be recognized, including Shirley Bridges, Gorman Stalder, Bob Talbot and John Woods.
• Shirley Bridges was born in Visalia and attended Visalia area schools until 1955. Her racing began as a hobby at the Visalia Airport at the age of 19, which soon turned into a career when she joined the Chrysler Racing Team in 1965. She was the first woman to win a National Hot Rod Racing event and was inducted into the Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1997.
• Gorman Stalder graduated from Visalia Union High School in 1937 where he was a star basketball and baseball player. Stadler went on to play professional baseball for the St. Luis Browns from 1939 thru 1946.
• Bob Talbot was born in Visalia, and attended Visalia area schools until 1944. Shortly after leaving high school, he joined the merchant Marines. He went on to play professional baseball for the Chicago Cubs in 1953 and 1954.
• John Woods graduated from Redwood High School in 1964 where he played football and wrestling. Woods went on to play for Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo College. In his four years at Cal Poly, he led his wrestling team to three NCAA national championships and recently was inducted into the Cal Poly Hall Of Fame. He is a three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association All-American Wrestler.
The new baseball fields meet the playing specifications as provided by both Cal Ripken Youth Baseball and Visalia Little League. Aside from league and tournament play during the spring and summer months by these organizations, the fields will be utilized for less competitive programs and other user groups during the late-summer and fall seasons as well.
The second phase of construction, roughly 12 acres, also included additional concession and restroom facilities to support the new baseball fields; the lighting of two more soccer fields (which means a total of five fields will now be lighted all along the southern boundary of the park); the lighting of the BMX facility; and additional parking lot and roadway improvements.
The Riverway Sports Park, located on North Dinuba Boulevard, is an 83-acre parcel which first opened to the public on August 25, 2007.
The initial phase of the sports complex included 48 acres of development featuring 10 regulation sized soccer fields (three were lighted); three large group picnic areas; two restroom/concession facilities; two playgrounds; an interactive water feature; permanent parking improvements; and a host of other general park amenities.
Parks Make Life Better
The new Riverway Sports Park represents a tremendous investment in our community, and in our youth, and adds to the quality of life for all our residents. The new sports park is also part of Visalia’s economic development plan as large-scale sporting tournaments attract teams from throughout the region that contribute to the local economy by staying in our local hotels, visiting our local eating establishments, and buying other products necessary as part of a trip to Visalia.
For more information regarding this event, call Jason Glick at 713-4586