River Falls brings old ball park back to life

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 10, 2016

For years it has been the vision of the River Falls Community Center to be a place of community gathering.

That dream has finally become reality.

“We decided to clear out the old ball field,” said Mattie Freeney, who is an organizer and member of the River Falls Town Council. “We had a May Day Festival and this derived out of the festival.”

Freeney said a lot of young people came out for the festival because they were supposed to play ball.

“We cleared the field and got the bases ready,” she said.

Freeney said last Saturday the River Falls Community Center dream team softball team had three teams play – River Falls , Georgiana and Andalusia.

“They played again on Sunday,” she said. “We beat Andalusia. So they wanted a rematch right away.”

Freeney said old and young are participating.

“The youngest one was in the fifth grade and the oldest one is 66,” she said. “We are planning to do it every Saturday.”

This weekend there will be two games one at 3:30 p.m. and the other at 5 p.m.

“I just ordered refreshments,” she said. “We are going to sell them. Bring your lawn chairs because we have no bleachers.”

Freeney said that years ago, when she was a child not yet in school, her uncles played at the same field.

“River Falls had a black baseball team, and they used that field,” she said.

Freeney said that people are coming to the center who have never been before.

“The center’s vision is to thrive,” she said. “It’s everybody’s vision. We have come so far, but we have  way to go. But it’s wonderful to see our young people get involved. That’s all we want to do. They cannot relate to our school. That building means absolutely nothing to them. Hopefully, that will see this as a community thing and that the building and the field belongs to the community.”

Freeney said there have been some older people decide to come out of retirement to play ball.

“They are saying, ‘If Bobby Harris’s old behind can play, I can, too,” she said. “One of our community members has been diagnosed with cancer, but he is excited about this. For a moment, this allowed his mind to be on something else.”

Admission is free to the games.