West Sacramento Hopes to Save Historic Memorial Park

WEST SACRAMENTO -- Many fear one spot in West Sacramento may soon be a field of dashed dreams.

"I'm feeling really sad actually, because this park has been here for generations," said 13-year-old Andrew Sloan, catcher in the West Sacramento Little League.

The access issues at Memorial Park were just some of the reasons why West Sacramento settled a lawsuit back in 2010, forcing major changes by 2020.

"You can notice here we have no sidewalk, curb or gutter, so there's no way for a person in a wheelchair to come up," said Cindy Tuttle, director of West Sacramento Parks and Recreation. "Then these dugouts are actually quite famous but they also just have stairs. There's no ramp."

Whatever happens to Memorial Park, it all means the 600 kids in the West Sacramento Little League can't use the field next year.

"I'd want them to renovate it, so it can stay here," said Dylan Drake, a 12-year-old who plays in the little league.

One of the kids normally on the pitcher's mound is Andrew Geers.

"Leron Lee, he's a Dodgers player," he said, pointing down at one signature on the bill of his baseball hat.

Geers' grandpa, pitcher Randy Lerch, who won the 1980 World Series with the Phillies, brought him to the signing session where he got the hat autographed. When asked if he'll be giving out autographs one day he said "hopefully" with a shy smile. Grandpa Geers played at Memorial Park and watched some of Andrew's seven seasons there.

Former Boston Red Sox star Dave Sax played there as well, following his older brother, former Oakland Athletics player Steve Sax, right along the baselines.

Now from that field, former West Sacramento Little League player Tanner Dodson is projected to go in the first round of this year's MLB draft.

"We don't want to throw away all the history at Memorial Park," said league president Morton Geivett. "We're looking for some options where we can maybe establish a couple fields here at Memorial, like some legacy fields. That's one of the options that we're gonna try to propose to the city."

West Sacramento is considering keeping some play on those fields and upgrading the entire setup or expanding elsewhere.

"We are looking at a reuse plan at Westmore Oaks, the old River City High School, which could include youth sports facilities," Tuttle said.

When it comes to something brand new or a renovated Memorial Park, shortstop Lucas Drake said he would "probably like it renovated." Luckily, there are a lot of options still on the table for those who just want to play ball.

The city has saved $1 million to address Memorial Park changes, but staff is also looking to grants to possibly flesh out the project.

The other league operating in town, the minor league River Cats, have a team foundation that does benefit youth sports on occasion. Representatives say the organization is looking into what might be done to help.