It’s been two years since Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico, yet people on the island are still working hard to rebuild their homes, schools, and yes, even baseball fields. Now, boricuas across the island are about to get a lending hand in this latter effort from two of their own: Bad Bunny and Marc Anthony.
The reggaetonero and salsa legend have teamed up with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a U.S. community development non-profit, to fund reconstruction for dozens of the 300 community baseball fields destroyed by María. Their program, Play Ball Again, plans not only to restore these parks – it will also facilitate programming for 17,500 local youth. With this, the organization hopes to create an “upward spiral of opportunities” for their community, says LISC president and CEO Maurice A. Jones.
Marc Anthony, whose own Maestro Cares Foundation is helping to fund the initiative, also understands that béisbol can be a real source of relief on the island. “Sports and recreation activities help to restore a sense of normalcy after disasters,” he said in a press release. “Baseball isn’t just a game in this context. It helps young people do better in school and improves family life and health in difficult circumstances.” This is especially true for rural communities, whose youth baseball fields were some of the hardest hit. Among these, LISC expects their funding to revitalize 25 fields in sites like Vega Baja, Carolina, Yabucoa, Yauco, Utuado, Loíza, Caguas, and Casteñer.
“Growing up on the island I spent a lot of time in some of these parks that are now destroyed,” explained Bad Bunny, whose Good Bunny Foundation is also partnering with Play Ball Again. “In parks similar to these, a lot of great athletes like Roberto Clemente, Yadier Molina, Roberto Alomar, Edgar Martinez, and Ivan Rodriguez grew up. Our commitment is to rebuild these parks so that we can help new athletes grow. This is the first step for the rebirth of sports within the island,” he said.
Thankfully, this rebirth is already on its way: Construction has begun on six fields and most field renovations are set for completion by the 2020 season.