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Selig helps dedicate renovated Boys & Girls Club

Selig helps dedicate renovated Boys & Girls Club

MINNEAPOLIS -- About half of the Jerry Gamble Boys & Girls Club, just a couple miles northwest of Target Field, had been blocked off for more than 10 years. It was a run-down area with an old swimming pool with dirty water in the bottom, missing tiles and broken fixtures.

With the help of Major League Baseball, the Twins and the Pohlad Family Foundation, that space has been completely renovated. Commissioner Bud Selig was on hand Monday to formally dedicate an activities center that now features room for baseball, basketball, volleyball and the performing arts. There's even a batting cage that lowers from the ceiling.

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"It is just awesome. It's incredible. It's a dream come true," said Erin Carlin, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities.

It's all part of MLB's All-Star Legacy Week Project, in which contributions are made annually for local projects and national charitable initiatives.

"Since 1997, Major League Baseball and its clubs have left an enduring and meaningful legacy within the communities that have hosted a Midsummer Classic. Baseball has contributed more than $65 million, including more than $8 million this year alone," said Selig. "By design, this annual effort has made a difference in many lives.

"Boys & Girls Clubs around the country [emphasize] the significance of school, service, personal growth and the pursuit of one's dreams in the minds of our children. It's an honor for Major League Baseball to support the marvelous efforts of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America."

In June, Selig was presented with the Chairman's Award by the BGCA at its 2014 Great Futures Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He was given another award by the local club on Monday.

While this is a cause that obviously matters a great deal to the Commissioner, the fact that the facility has been named the Carl and Eloise Pohlad Activity Center after the late Twins owner and his wife made it even more special to him.

"My dear friends Carl and Eloise Pohlad made this community better in countless ways. I'm happy to see that their philanthropic spirit has been carried on so strongly," Selig said to an audience that included their son, Jim, now the Twins' CEO, plus club president Dave St. Peter and former All-Star first baseman Kent Hrbek, a Twins Cities native.

"The Twins have taken generosity to new heights by helping us facilitate the most extensive legacy campaign in All-Star Game history. This endeavor will help us ensure that the 2014 Midsummer Classic will provide a lasting legacy in the Twin Cities."

The program featured a moving speech from 17-year-old Rio Jones, who talked about how much the Boys & Girls Clubs meant to him, growing up in a household where domestic violence was common.

"I needed an outlet. And it was easy for me to find an outlet on the streets," Jones said. "But I continued feeling angry and unsatisfied. It was only after joining the Boys & Girls Club that I truly became who I am.

"I was really only interested in the basketball program when I first came. But after several visits, I realized there was more than just basketball. They had poetry programs, leadership opportunities and performing arts. The club gave me goals and a way to achieve them."

Jones, who will attend Minnesota State University, Mankato, beginning in the fall, received a standing ovation when he was finished speaking.

The Jerry Gamble Boys & Girls Club has 3,000 members, but all 12,000 members in the Twin Cities area will have access to the new facility.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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