Pirates Charities help out Toronto

TORONTO — The Red Knight Baseball Complex has long been regarded as one of the premier facilities in the Ohio Valley.

It’s only going to be getting better.

Last week, Toronto City School officials received official word that their application for a Pirates Charities “Fields for Kids” grant had been approved, meaning the school district will receive $5,000 to help with plans to install new fencing.

“We are thrilled with the news that we received this,” Toronto Superintendent Maureen Taggart said. “You have to sell a lot of hot dogs to raise $5,000, so receiving such a significant contribution toward our project is amazing.”

The Fields for Kids award is a matching grant, so Toronto City Schools had to pledge $5,000 from its permanent improvement fund.

According to Taggart, the project includes replacing the entire outfield fence.

“The outfield fencing is an important safety feature since left field and part of center field border the banks of the Ohio River, which has a drop off of approximately 20 feet,” Taggart said. “The current fencing is in poor condition with many bent poles, broken brackets and sections covered in rust.”

Taggart wrote and submitted the grant to Pirates Charities in July. Though familiar with the program from attending several Pirates games, she said that Toronto Mayor John Parker was the one who really encouraged her and the school to seek the grant.

“The city had received funding through this program for the renovation of the girls softball field and he thought we should give it a shot,” Taggart said. “We began renovating the high school baseball field last year and we wanted to continue the renovations and thought this (grant) would be a great way to help finance it.”

Work to continually maintain, upgrade and improve the Red Knight Baseball Complex is seemingly always ongoing. According to Taggart, there are long-term goals for the facility to install new dugouts and field turf on the infield.

“The Knight Baseball Complex is one of the nicest fields in the area,” Taggart said. “There have been many donors and volunteers who have worked extremely hard to maintain the quality of the field’s function and appearance. We owe it to them and the citizens of our community to properly maintain the facility.”

Over the course of the last year, some of the improvements the facility has see include the installation of a new sprinkler system and backstop, replaced fencing along the first and third base lines, improved the parking lot and re-surfaced the infield.

The Toronto baseball program has certainly reaped the rewards of a first-class facility. The Red Knights have won a state championship (1998), three regional titles, eight OVAC titles, 12 district titles and 24 consecutive sectional titles. Much of that success has come under current head coach Brian Perkins, who surpassed the 300-win barrier last spring.

“We are very fortunate to have a school administration and community that provides support for our baseball program, allowing our student athletes the opportunity to play on facilities that are second to none,” Perkins said. “Our players share a pride and passion for the game of baseball with the community. The updated facilities, including our indoor hitting facility, allow our players the opportunity to be successful in the spring.”