This diamond is really in the rough. By now, Homeless Diamond -- the summer softball league organized by real-estate developer Joe Carabello whose players are homeless men -- should be well into its third season. But the Denver Department of Parks & Recreation decided to do a major, and needed, renovation of Sonny Lawson Field, the historic ballfield at the edge of Five Points. Although the work is done, that delayed permitting while the sod took hold. And then, after Carabello had gotten a permit to start on July 2, the city suddenly pushed that date back to July 9. And now today's game has been postponed, too.
Carabello, who's part of a senior league, got the idea to create Homeless Diamond a few years ago, when he saw homeless men hanging around this part of downtown, where many of the city's shelters are located, and realized a weekly baseball game might give them some structure, some support...and at the very least, some fun. The concept was a big hit, and after this spring's delays, both Carabello and his players were looking forward to playing ball.
But as Carabello wrote his supporters yesterday:
A short time ago, officials from the City of Denver informed me that they were postponing the opening of the renovated ball field at Sonny Lawson Park . . . again!
I've been told that it's likely we'll have access next week, but since this is not the first postponement, I'm viewing it as an "indefinite postponement." I'll keep you posted.
So there will be no game today. The business that was planning to donate coffee and pastries to the players can cancel that order. The people who were planning to cheer on the players and Carabello's ever-more-thankless efforts can spend their morning in other ways.
Maybe they can reread On the Road, in which Jack Kerouac describes a game he saw on this field back in 1949:
Down at 23rd and Welton a softball game was going on under the floodlights which also illuminated the gas tank. A great eager crowd roared at every play. The strange young heroes of all kinds, white, colored, Mexican, pure Indian, were on the field, performing with heart-breaking seriousness. Just sandlot kids in uniform....Near me sat an old Negro who apparently watched the games every night. Next to him was an old white bum, then a Mexican family, then some girls, some boys -- all humanity, the lot. Oh, the sadness of the lights that night! The young pitcher looked just like Dean. A pretty blonde in the seats looked just like Marylou. It was the Denver Night; All I did was die.
Down in Denver, down in Denver All I did was die.
Let's hope the Homeless Diamond does not die. But at the moment, this league is homeless. Update: Denver Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Angela Casias says that Sonny Lawson is now slated to open this Thursday, July 11, for league play.
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