It's usually not a good thing in baseball to be on the bench, but at the Palo Alto Little League (PALL) ballpark on Middlefield Road, the installation of three new benches for spectators has turned that around.
A gift of the Boyd Arnold family, the 2,000-pound concrete benches next to the left field bullpen have gotten good use since their installation in January, according to League President Kristin Foss.
On Saturday, March 21 -- the league's opening day -- the gift will be officially recognized.
Though initially donated as a way to memorialize an Arnold family member, the benches will also play a role in the league's upcoming capital campaign, Foss said the PALL board decided this week. A few major donors to the campaign, which is still in the planning stages but could have a goal of $500,000 to $750,000, would be honored with plaques affixed to two of the benches.
The last renovation of the ballpark was more than 20 years ago, Foss said.
One bench is already dedicated in honor of the late Jo Ann Dixon, the Arnold family matriarch and a 50-plus year resident of Palo Alto, and her husband of 41 years, Stan. Jo Ann Dixon died in October 2013 and was active in Palo Alto life, according to her grandson Boyd Arnold III.
"My parents, who both worked full time, relied heavily on my grandmother to get my brother and me to PALL games and practices. She drove us, and sometimes some of our teammates as well, to the PALL field so often that we coined her car the 'Cadillac Express,'" Arnold told the Weekly. "It was a recognizable fixture at the park."
The ballpark "symbolizes for all her descendants (one son, one daughter, four stepchildren, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild) how supportive she was of everyone in her life, how she showed up for others, was always so positive, and always liked to have fun. We all agreed that the PALL baseball field was an ideal place to honor the memory of our beloved Jo," he said.
Among the renovations being considered for the 3672 Middlefield Road facility, Foss said, are upgrades to the outfield with a T-ball field for younger players, a snack shack and new batting cages.
The prior renovation funded improvements to the stands, scoreboard and clubhouse, Foss said. It was made possible by a $100,000 anonymous gift, later found to be from developer and philanthropist John Arrillaga.
This Saturday's opening day starts at about 8:45 a.m., Foss said.