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Ballplayer’s dream near reality in Kansas town
FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) Adam LaRoche has traveled widely during his 11 seasons in major league baseball, but the California-born athlete has always wanted to help the southeast Kansas community where he played high school ball.
Now, the Washington Nationals first baseman is close to realizing his vision for a state-of-the-art baseball complex in Fort Scott.
Details of an agreement between the city and the Fort Scott school district for the $2 million LaRoche Baseball Complex are being finalized, and City Manager Dave Martin said groundbreaking could take place as early as June 1.
The 500-seat stadium and field, with room for a practice field or additional playing field, will be the new home of the Fort Scott High School baseball team, which now shares facilities with Fort Scott Community Colleges team. Martin said LaRoche is putting up the money to get the project started, but the city is also seeking sponsors.
LaRoche, 34, led Fort Scott High School to a class 4A State runner-up finish as a senior in 1998, when he hit eight home runs and amassed a 7-0 record as a pitcher. He also played one season at the community college, where his father was the head coach.
Ive always considered Fort Scott home, LaRoche said recently. And now, being in a position to be able to help out and put together a complex like this, is always something I wanted to do. Its something that my wife and I have talked about for years, to eventually put something really nice like this in town.
In the majors, LaRoche played for the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburg Pirates, Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks before joining the Nationals in 2011. He had his best season in 2012, winning a Gold Glove and hitting 33 home runs with 100 RBIs in leading Washington to its first National League East Division title.
But he remembers his uncle David Regan, who coached him at Fort Scott High School, as probably the best coach Ive ever had. The main field at the new complex will be named for Regan.
He was the best. He was a professional at it, and gained a lot of respect around town because of the way he treated people, regardless of their status, LaRoche said. He was constantly willing to go out of his way to make somebody a better person. I feel like hes a huge reason why Im playing in the big leagues now. He was kind of like a second father to me.
LaRoche believes the new stadium will benefit not just the high school team but the community as well.
During the summer, we would like to eventually host some big tournaments there and give the town a chance to draw in some more people there as far as filling up the hotels and restaurants, trying to boost the economy, he said.