CHICAGO - The Hegewisch Babe Ruth League baseball field at 12600 S.
Carondolet Ave. and the surrounding area received a spring cleaning thanks to
the helping hands and caring hearts of volunteers.
The Calumet Ecological Park Association, Hegewisch Sports Facility
Coalition, and the Hegewisch Babe Ruth League sent volunteers to Saturday's
cleanup project, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The approximately 35 volunteers performed the cleanup as part of a delayed
Earth Day project, said Larry Wedryk, Hegewisch businessman and project
Wedryk said he belongs to CEPA, the group which supports protecting the Lake
Calumet area by turning it into an ecological park.
Volunteers, including CEPA members John Pastirik and Marian Byrnes, donned
winter jackets to keep out Saturday morning's chilly wind.
Pastirik and Byrnes scoured the area along the banks of Indian Creek south
of the ball field. They unearthed lots of broken glass, beer bottles, a rubber
hose from a car, a spraying container for pesticides or paint, an air filter
for a car, fishing line, and even telephone cable.
The area along the creek and the baseball field is in a remote location in
north Hegewisch. It is surrounded by industry, including what's left of LTV
Steel, Arrow Terminal, and developer Donald Schroud's property.
Pastirik and Byrnes collected several bags of debris which they deposited in
nearby garbage cans.
Pastirik said he hoped Saturday's cleanup would improve the area's
"This could be an asset to the community instead of an eyesore," Pastirik
Meanwhile, volunteers from the Hegewisch Sports Facility Coalition and the
Hegewisch Babe Ruth League cleaned up the ball field in preparation for the
league's May 25 opening day.
The volunteers, including Mike Maslanka, Mike Nudo, and Matt Gonzales,
picked up debris scattered over the field.
"We're trying to make the field look better," Maslanka said.
It wasn't just all work and no play Saturday for the boys. They took turns
batting and catching on the field.
John Karas, also of the coalition, said there's a lot of work to be done. He
noted a water line to the concession stand burst over the winter after water
trapped inside the line had frozen. The line will be replaced, but work will be
costly. Karas was hoping for donations to cover the cost.
"It (the baseball field) has been sitting all winter. We want to make it a
nice place to visit for the summer," Karas said. "We want to keep the kids off
the streets. We want to keep them busy, having something for them to do by
playing the all-American sport."
The land on which the existing Hegewisch Babe Ruth League baseball field
stands plus about 25 acres east of it, across South Carondolet Avenue, now
belongs to the Hegewisch Sports Facility Coalition, Karas said.
The land formerly was owned by LTV Steel, then sold to local developer
Donald Schroud, who donated it to the coalition last year, Karas said.
The land east of Carondolet Avenue is the former site of an ancient lake.
It's now marshland, Wedryk said. Some of that land may some day be used for a
new, larger Hegewisch Babe Ruth League ball field, but the wetlands area will
not be disturbed, Karas said.
Careless dumping and recent windstorms have blown paper and garbage around
the area. The debris must be cleaned up as a first step to rejuvenating the
area, said Wedryk.
"We are trying to return the area to its pristine beauty," Wedryk said.
Pastirik said he's not sure how to get people to stop littering the area.
Ironically, there's a sign on the field's concession stand advising local
residents, "This is your field, Hegewisch. Take pride in it."
The cleanup volunteers are hoping people will heed the sign's message.