LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Twenty-three years after the All-Star Game made its first Denver appearance, its legacy project continues to make dreams come true.
In 1998, Major League Baseball chose the Gold Crown Foundation as its legacy project recipient. The league creates community projects every All-Star Game to improve and help organizations around the city.
Businessman Ray Baker and former Denver Nugget Bill Hanzlik created the Gold Crown foundation. The non-profit organization offers sports and education programs for kids.
"In '91 and '92 they eliminated all junior high sports," Baker explained. "So all after school activities for the most part and the athletics were gone. We felt that was a great niche that was missing."
As the organization began to expand into an array of sports they searched for financial support and found it within the front office of the Colorado Rockies when the All-Star Game was expected to head to Denver.
" [Then] came the All-Star Game and due to the efforts of the ownership of the Colorado Rockies, Dick Monfort, and the president, Kelly McGregor, they supported the initiative for a mini Coors Field," Baker explained.
"They committed basically every cent, which was incredible, we weren't anticipating that," he added.
According to Hanzlik, the same architect that built Coors Field built Coca Cola All-Star Park, the youth baseball league field that sits at the corner of West Alameda Avenue and South Harlan Street in Lakewood, looking like a miniature version of Coors Field.
"I remember being very nervous, I remember the kind of feeling like, 'Wow this is how the big leaguers feel,'" Jeff Petty stated. The Coloradan participated in the Opening game at that ballpark when he was 14 years old.
"I mean when you're in 8th grade and you play at a field like this, that's something that sticks with you," he said.
Coca Cola All-Star Park continues to host state tournaments and mountain teams that tend to struggle with weather.
They are also home to Colorado Christian University's baseball team.
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