Magical Builders shine on Shadyside
Ribbon-cutting marks renovation of Boys & Girls Club
PITTSBURGH -- Major League Baseball and the Frank Foundation's Magical Builders celebrated the renovation of Shadyside Boys & Girls Club with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday morning.The renovation of the club, located only five miles from PNC Park, was part of MLB's All-Star Week community efforts around the city. MLB's Vice President of Community Affairs Tom Brasuell expressed his thanks on behalf of MLB to everyone who assisted in the renovation project. "Although they're the Magical Builders, their work certainly is magical -- they almost could be called the night-and-day builders. ... It's like night and day from when the renovation started to when it ends," Brasuell said. "You [kids] are going to have a nice, cheery, bright clubhouse. ... We're proud to be a part of it and we thank all the volunteers, all the local contractors that supplied materials, work and staff hours to do this renovation so you guys have a better place to play," he said. This is the third B&GCA club renovation in which MLB has partnered with Magical Builders. "You guys and gals are going to have a great place to grow up and play in," Brasuell said. "As a [former] Boys & Girls Club kid, I know how important it is going to a club. I probably spent more time in the club than I did at home -- so I know how important a place it is." Attending the ceremony with Brasuell were the Frank Foundation's Jon and Christy Frank, Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania President and CEO Mike Hepler, John Kovacs, president of the Pittsburgh Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Shadyside B&GC Executive Director Tom Yandora and other club officials, along with about 60 children from the club. As part of the project, the club received a complete interior painting, renovated bathrooms, windows, lighting, baseboards, ceiling tiles, upgraded heating and air conditioning, an improved arts and crafts room and many other interior touch-up projects. "It's exciting to see the difference and to see the children's eyes when they walk in here," said Christy Frank. "The color has been the biggest transformation. ... When the kids walk in every morning and see a different bright color on the walls, they get so excited, and it definitely puts a smile on their faces." In addition to these renovations, an indoor swimming pool behind the club will be turned into an indoor baseball training complex to provide year-round programming for the children. Christy Frank said the members were thrilled to all the visitors at their club this week and that they kept asking her who would be coming next. In addition to the MLB visitors, Futures Game players Gio Gonzalez and Neil Walker stopped by on Saturday. "They keep on asking, 'Can we have people come tomorrow? We like everybody at our home.' So they really think of this as their home," she said. "It's just another reinforcement to us that when we walk in here in the mornings, this is their home, so treat it like that, as if people are coming into yours. The kids take great pride in it." The American Society of Civil Engineers helped provide building materials for the renovations. And companies and individuals also donated supplies for the club, such as sports equipment, a large-screen TV, a DVD player with DVDs and plenty of games, toys, and arts and crafts supplies for the kids. "Rawlings has donated tons, thousands and thousands of dollars worth of equipment," Christy Frank said. "That was the thing that this program needed extensively. ... [The club] has been very thrilled with that." After the ribbon cutting, four of the MLB teams' mascots came by the club to celebrate with them: Pittsburgh's Pirate Parrot, the Chicago White Sox' Southpaw, Philadelphia's Phillie Phanatic and Kansas City's Sluggerrr. They played with the delighted members and signed autographs for them.
"Tell me I'm dreaming, because this would never happen in real life," said club member James Ford, 7, about the mascots' visit.He said he liked all of the mascots, but his two favorites were Sluggerrr and the Parrot. "The lion is pretty cool because he's the king. [The Parrot is] funny and he's from my hometown," said Ford. "I was really excited [to see them] because I like mascots, they're really funny and exciting."
Christie Cowles is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.