HOUSTON — The Astros and Minute Maid hosted a ceremony Friday morning at the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park to officially dedicate the Jimmy Wynn Training Center– a new $500,000 facility that represents the Grand Slam for Youth Baseball’s 2011 Field Project.
Former three-time All-Star outfielder Jimmy Wynn, Grand Slam for Youth Baseball ambassadors Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, manager Brad Mills, general manager Ed Wade, president of baseball operations Tal Smith, president of business operations Pam Gardner and Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton highlighted the group of Astros representatives in attendance.
Also, several civic and community leaders, including State Senator John Whitmire and State Representative Sylvester Turner, were on hand.
For Wynn, the event Friday was truly an honor.
“This is a special day for me and my family, and something I never expected,” Wynn said in a statement. “God has truly blessed me. I believe in the power of baseball and in the great life lessons it teaches.
“The game has given me so much and I am grateful for the opportunities to remain involved. Being able to work with kids to teach baseball skills while addressing important life issues has given me great joy and I hope has made a difference to others.
“This facility is a wonderful addition to the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy and I am touched and honored to be a part of it all.”
The 4,341 square-foot indoor facility features a training center floor covered wall-to-wall with artificial turf, as well as 3,412 square feet of multi-use space containing two cable suspended batting cages, north and south walls that can be opened with eight roll-up doors, three storage areas, an air conditioned umpire/staff locker room and two Yoshida pitching machines.
“The new Jimmy Wynn Training Center is a great addition to Sylvester Turner Park and a great asset to the young people who will benefit from it and our park system,” Director Houston Parks and Recreation Department Joe Turner said. “Jimmy Wynn has always been a hero of mine. I am thrilled to know that future baseball fans will learn the game at a facility named in his honor.”
Major League Baseball contributed to the funding of the new facility.
“We are proud to see the progress made on and off the field at the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy,” MLB executive vice president of baseball development Jimmy Lee Solomon said. “Major League Baseball was eager to accept the responsibility to provide opportunities to young men and women, and we thank the Houston Astros and the Houston community for their commitment to this program. We are looking forward to seeing this facility continue to grow and thrive.”
Wynn, a longtime fan favorite in Houston, has served as an ambassador for Grand Slam for Youth Baseball over the last six years.
The Astros retired Wynn’s No. 24 on June 25, 2005 prior to facing the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park as part of the Lone Star Series.
Wynn ranks fourth in home runs (223), seventh in RBI (719), seventh in games (1,426), sixth in at-bats (5063), sixth in runs (829), eighth in hits (1,291), seventh in doubles (228), 12th in triples (32), sixth in total bases (2,252), fourth in walks (847), ninth in stolen bases (180), eighth in on-base percentage (.362) and ninth in slugging percentage (.445) on the Astros’ all-time list.
“This beautiful new center is named to honor one of our most beloved alumni, Jimmy Wynn,” Gardner said. “Jimmy travels throughout Houston speaking with parents and youth about how participation in youth baseball can strengthen the mind and body.
“The Jimmy Wynn Training Center is a fitting tribute to Jimmy’s commitment and dedication to Houston kids and baseball.”
Minute Maid and the Houston Astros collaborated in August 2002 to create Grand Slam for Youth Baseball, a community outreach program designed to make it easier for boys and girls to play, learn about and experience baseball by teaching self-confidence, involvement, teamwork and fun among local area children.
“A driving force behind Grand Slam for Youth Baseball is to reach as many Houston area youth as possible,” president of Minute Maid Mike Saint John said. “We feel constructing the Jimmy Wynn Training Center at the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy will help meet the goal by providing a first-class space for youth to practice and improve their baseball or softball skills.”
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