LIVERMORE — Future generations of Livermore children will get to grow up playing baseball on a field named after one of their own.
A newly renovated field at May Nissen Park has been designated Randy Johnson Field, after star San Francisco Giants pitcher and Livermore native Randy Johnson. The athlete, who has been with the Giants since the start of the year, is expected to return home for a dedication ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the field at 685 Rincon Ave.
The 6-foot 10-inch Johnson, nicknamed "The Big Unit," will throw out the first pitch at the event, which will also include hot dogs, a game after the ceremony and an appearance by Giants mascot Lou Seal. The public is invited.
"When we signed Randy earlier this year, it was a natural connection. Wouldn't it be fantastic to do something in Livermore where you grew up? I know he is very excited about coming back," said Paul Giuliacci, associate director for the Giants Community Fund, the team's nonprofit arm. The organization's major flagship program is the Junior Giants, which sponsors baseball programs for underprivileged and underserved children.
Johnson, 45, a 1982 graduate of Livermore High School, recently helped fund the renovation of a 58-year-old field across from Marylin Avenue Elementary School — one of the area's poorest and most diverse schools.
The Giants Community Fund, the Good Tidings Foundation and Chevron also contributed to more than
It's a home run "all the way around," Carlson said.
"It's fortunate, at a time when the economic budget is what it is, that a private donor like the Giants would come forward and help us," he added. "It's a nice feather in the cap of that park out there, and I think the community is going to be very proud of it."
As an added bonus, the Junior Giants will sponsor an ongoing baseball program for children at and around Marilyn Avenue Elementary.
About 40 kids have already signed up to play in the program, which will be free and noncompetitive. The Giants Community Fund will supply the uniforms and equipment, Giuliacci said.
"Our outreach effort is really to reach out to kids that wouldn't have the necessary funds to pay for some of the fees that youth sports now encompass," Giuliacci said.
The donations from Johnson and the Giants will help keep Livermore's "strong baseball heritage" going, Carlson said.
"It's the first time he's (Randy Johnson) been in San Francisco for his entire career, so it's like the son came home. "... A whole new generation of kids will be able to look on the wall and see a legend who came through Livermore and will be in the Hall of Fame after he retires."
For details on the Junior Giants baseball program, call the Livermore Area Park and Recreation District at 925-373-5746.
Jeanine Benca covers Livermore. Reach her at 925-847-2125.