- Associated Press - Saturday, June 28, 2014

GARY, Ind. (AP) - Volunteers from the city’s Black Oak neighborhood are working to bring Little League baseball back to their community.

Several years have passed since organized baseball was played on the Black Oak Little League field, organizers of the push said.

Lifelong Black Oak residents, reeling from school and library closings, want baseball to come back and provide their children the same great memories so many of them had of the field. They said they also want to build morale and bring a sense of community to Black Oak.

All this week, about 50 residents and parishioners from local churches have been at the field painting fences, dugouts and working on the concession stand.

“It’s good to see an exciting thing in Black Oak,” said Kim Krygsheld, of the Black Oak Community Development Group. “We can give the neighborhood a boost.”

Krygsheld told The Times ( http://bit.ly/1lYeiN8 ) the group wants the Black Oak Little League up and running next year. It’s working with Little League officials on making that happen.

“We need sponsors for teams,” she said. “We’re just getting the field done, and nobody wants to sponsor until they know there is a field to play on.”

Amanda Hubbard, slated to be president of Black Oak Little League, said fixing up the field and bringing an official Little League back was necessary because there’s nothing in the neighborhood for children.

“The Little League - when we were growing up - was a big deal here,” she said. “We thought since we don’t have the Little League for our kids anymore, maybe we can get that started. We didn’t want to rush into it. We wanted to do it right. Other people have tried, and it didn’t succeed.”

Part of that has meant restoring the field.

“We want it back to its heyday when it was the place to be,” Hubbard said.

The volunteers said they have been working with Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson in getting their plans in order. Freeman-Wilson said the project began last year during her walking tour of Black Oak.

“It provides wonderful opportunities for the citizens of Black Oak,” Freeman-Wilson said. “We’ve been working with them very closely as we move toward trying to get stuff done. It’s an example of the community and the city working together.”

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Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com