Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Old Friendship Baptist Church Grounds to be Used for Baseball

While redevelopment of the Old Friendship Baptist Church site at Delaware Avenue and H Street is on hold, the owner has leased the grounds to the Batter Up Foundation for use by DC RBI as a bullpen, batting cage, and storage space. The Batter Up Foundation is a non-profit organization affiliated with Major League Baseball that helps to bring baseball to inner-city youth in several cities across the country.

The grounds of the church are being set up as a batting cage, bullpen, and storage.
Next door to the church at Randall Recreation Center, the local DC Junior RBI Little League team has been practicing for the past couple of months at the ball field. Even though some of the 14 kids on the team are local Southwesters and attend Jefferson Middle School, this is the first season that the team has been practicing in Southwest. Coach Andrew Williamson, who is in his fourth year of coaching with DC RBI, said that DC RBI draws kids from Wards 5, 6, 7, and 8 and the Randall Rec Center ball field is ideal since it's centrally located, lighted, and easy to get to for the players. The Randall field has been underutilized by youth - the only people using it previously has been adult softball teams. Coach Andrew says DC RBI has been working with DPR, King-Greenleaf Recreation Center, and community leaders to bring the team to Randall. "We want people to know that kids here have an interest in baseball," said Williamson.

The ball field at Randall Recreation Center is behind the church.
Practice is held twice a week (Monday and Wednesday evenings) from 6:30 - 8:30pm. The first game of the season will be this Saturday, but the team plays their games at a little league field east of the Anacostia. The team mostly plays against other teams in DC, but also a few in Virginia and Maryland.

This isn't the first site in Southwest that has temporary uses on it while development has been delayed. Besides the parking lots along South Capitol Street, St. Matthew's has used their site at Delaware Avenue and M Street as a Christmas tree lot and community garden, and the northwest parcel at Waterfront Station has been used as a field for Ultimate Frisbee.

The Washington Business Journal also has a story on DC RBI's lease, and mentions in its article that Washington Parks and People will also lease part of the grounds for use as an urban agricultural site.

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