It was a historical morning in Upper St. Clair. A ceremonial groundbreaking in Boyce Mayview Park marked the start of construction for the new field for the Pirates Charities Miracle League of the South Hills.
The custom-designed, rubberized field will allow children of all abilities to play baseball. Organizers hope to have the field ready for the first league to play in spring 2012.
Last summer, three-time Major League Baseball all-star and Upper St. Clair resident Sean Casey, and his wife, Mandi, started their endeavor to raise enough money to build and sustain a Miracle Field for the South Hills community.
Less than one year and $1 million later, Sean and Mandi Casey put on their hard hats and grabbed their shovels, alongside the township officials and major sponsors, and dug into the dirt behind the spot where home plate will be.
"I can't believe we're taking out the shovels," Sean Casey said. "I'm so thankful for all who have helped out. I'm at a loss of words, I'm really overwhelmed."
Pirates Charities bought the naming rights of the Miracle Field of the South Hills for $150,000. Bob Nutting, chairman of Pirates Charities and owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, said the Miracle League will help the township and the surrounding area.
"The impact the field can have on families and the community is just tremendous," Nutting said. "So often these kids have been told you can't play. This field's not for you. Well now it's your turn. This field says yes to all kids."
Nutting was impressed with the way the Upper St. Clair community stepped up to support the mission.
"When the marching band shows up to play this morning, when an elementary school raises thousands of dollars, that's a community that has an impact," Nutting said.
Upper St. Clair Township donated the land for the Miracle Field to be built on next to the . The field will be available for people with special needs in Upper St. Clair, the entire South Hills and stretching into Washington County.
"Even all the families in Washington County are excited about this, " said Wayne Herrod, special events manager for the Washington Wild Things.
"That's what we do here in Upper St. Clair," said Matthew Serakowski, Upper St. Clair township manager. "To donate this land and help kids in Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, South Fayette, children throughout the area, that's what we're all about."
Greg Brown, announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates and emcee of the groundbreaking event, said 250 people have already signed up to be buddies in the Pirates Charities Miracle League of the South Hills. Buddies are children and adults who volunteer to help the Miracle Leaguers on the field.
Brown also emphasized that hundreds of donations came in from community members.
A number of corporations stepped up to make contributions for the Miracle Field. The starting lineup sponsors — those who donated $50,000 — are UPMC; UPMC Health Plan; Rohrich Lexus; Highmark; CentiMark; A.C. Dellovade; P.J. Dick, Trumbull, and Lindy Paving; Giant Eagle; and FedEx.
"I'm so proud to be from this city and I'm so proud to be from this community," Sean Casey said.
Click on the video above to see the ceremonial groundbreaking and flip through the photo slideshow to see the large turnout and the familiar faces in the audience. Visit Casey's Clubhouse's website to find out how you can get involved.
Other Casey's Clubhouse stories on Upper St. Clair Patch:
Basketball and Pies Raise $6,000 for Casey's Clubhouse