Randall Mize, left, and Curtis Stroud of the South Kansas City Rotary Club stand near the third base dugout at the Ozanam ballfield.

South KC Rotary rehabs a field of dreams

“For some of these kids, this is it…,”

By Don Bradley

Off a busy Holmes Road, tucked along a tree line south of Martin City, sits a lonely, run-down ball field.

Rough infield, weeds, old fencing, holes in the backstop, scraggly landscape, shabby dugouts.

Hardly a field of dreams. But help is on deck.

Help for the kids at Ozanam.

A couple of Saturdays ago, a dozen or so members of the South Kansas City Rotary Club showed up with chainsaws, shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows to begin a two-phase plan to restore the old field to game shape.

Ozanam is a non-profit residential treatment for children with emotional and behavioral problems and learning disabilities.

“We’re doing this for the kids in those buildings over there,” said Randall Mize, president of the group, as he stood on the infield and talked about the project that is expected to cost at least $25,000.

Photo provided by the South Kansas City Rotary Club show the needed work at the Ozanam ball field.


He and fellow Rotary member Curtis Stroud, who stood nearby, know the rough path those kids took to get to the Cornerstones of Care-Ozanam campus.

“For some of these kids, this is it…,” Stroud said.

Jon Ratliff, Ozanam spokesperson, said the ball field work is much appreciated and will have a positive impact on the kids.

“They get outside, work on sports, gain confidence, learn how to be good teammates and learn how to work together,” Ratliff said.

Ozanam was started in 1948 by one man and some volunteers who found six boys who had been abused an abandoned. Since that beginning, Ozanam has served thousands of boys and girls ages 5-23.

The South Kansas City Rotary got involved in the mid-1990s when they built the baseball field in the first place. Service has always been a big part of the club’s mission, Mize said. To make the point he talked about a hospital the club built and helped operate in the Dominican Republic.

“Service above self,” he said, citing the club’s motto.

Actually, about 30 years is time enough for a ballfield to merit a renovation.

The first phase of the ball field project began on that recent Saturday in May. Work includes the removal of grass, weeds and debris. The infield will be tilled. More dirt and sand will be brought in for leveling.

Photo provided by the South Kansas City Rotary Club show the needed work at the Ozanam ball field

The bases will be redrawn accordingly for both baseball and softball.

Phase two, expected to begin this fall, calls for the removal and replacement of the backstop and all foul line and home run fencing. More sand will be added to the infield. A new pitcher’s mound will be built. Phase two also calls for new dugouts.

So far, the work has totaled about $5,000. Phase 2 will be far more costly. The hope is that the national Rotary organization will match local funding.

To cut down costs, members will do as much of the landscaping work as they can. Mize called Stroud, who owns and operates Rosehill Gardens nursery in Martin City, their “ace in the hole.”

Stroud shrugged at that, but acknowledged thinking, “Well, that’s right up my alley.”

So why do they do it? Get out there on hot days with a chain saw and shovel?

“We’re here to help the community,” Mize said.

Stroud added: “I’d like to think we want to make the community around us better.”

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