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Bricktown Ballpark leads off with a hit

By Charolette Aiken Published: October 11, 1995
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Free hot dogs. Cracker Jacks. Cold pop. And no school. What more could a kid want?

"I think it's great," said fifth-grader Stevon Hammond.

The 10-year-old was one of about 1,000 students from Polk Elementary and Douglass High School taking part in Tuesday's ground breaking in Oklahoma City for the $21 million Bricktown baseball park.

"My grandma says this is all about the future of Oklahoma City.

It means better and more attractions for people from out of state, and that will make them want to come back here," Hammond said.

"Grandma" is Willa Johnson, he said.

Oklahoma City Councilwoman Johnson represents Ward 7, which includes the corner of California and Walnut avenues, the site of the Bricktown baseball park.

"My grandma talks about MAPS all the time," Hammond said with a grin.

The ballpark is the first of nine major sports and entertainment facilities planned as part of the $285 million Metropolitan Area Projects.

Baseball fans could not have asked for better weather Tuesday.

The sun shone brightly over a mock field set up at the corner of Stiles and Reno avenues. Backhoes could be heard nearby loading and dumping rubble and debris from what was once the home for the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority, the city's bus operation.

City leaders joined Oklahoma City 89ers co-owners Larry and Bill Mathis and Bricktown officials in "getting some dust stirred up" as symbolic spades were used to turn dirt.

Mayor Ron Norick and 89ers President Clay Bennett then threw ceremonial "first pitches" to University of Oklahoma baseball catcher Javier Flores.

Joining city council members on the sidelines 1 were baseball Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins and OU football coach Howard Schnellenberger.

Excavation is under way at the ballpark site, which will be the 89ers' new home when they end a 35-year association with All Sports Stadium at the state fairgrounds, Bennett said.

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