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PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) – A little over a year ago, the players and coaches of the Paterson Old Timers Youth Baseball League faced an opponent they never saw coming: Hurricane Ida — which wiped away Pennington Park Field.

“I felt hurt,” said baseball coach DJ Osorio. “I felt hurt for the kids. There’s a lot of history here.”

“The infield ripped up,” said league president Abraham Aguayo. “With the storm and the wind, it ripped up the field. It was deemed unplayable, so we couldn’t play here. Then we had the pandemic on top of that. We haven’t been able to use it for two years, and this is our main field, this is our prized field.”

But now, it’s a whole new ballgame, as city and league leaders break ground on a brand-new field. The decades-old surface and what little dirt is left will be replaced with turf.

“It’s the best thing that can possibly happen to us,” said Aguayo. “If we don’t have this field, we have to go to other fields and travel all over the place. When we have this field, it just makes it so much easier for our fans, for our coaches who are volunteers giving their time, and it’s easy to come here for our players.”

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said FEMA will be picking up the majority of the cost, with taxpayers left to pay a little around $42,000.

“We believe that it’s a worthy investment because you’re investing in our youth and a new and improved field for all of them to play on,” said Sayegh.

Osorio remembers playing on this field when he was 9 years old. Now a coach, he can’t wait for this year’s opening day.

“This is probably the mecca for Paterson baseball, Pennington Park,” said Osorio. “A lot of people, a lot of old timers, always talk about ‘is Pennington Park still there?’ Yeah, it is. It was all hands on deck, everyone made it happen.”

League leaders hope to open the field in May.