CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Walking the Tuckaseegee Dream Fields and Education Center property with Al Daspin, you’ll see a lot of work at the athletic complex.

“It’s hard to believe that we are here today after the lift of the last five years,” Daspin said.

Daspin, the Queens University director of baseball operations, walked the common area between three fields on Friday. Soon, his school teams will occupy the facility. But there’s more to the project, with Major League Baseball supporting the Mecklenburg County park.

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The Knothole Foundation cleared knee-high grass from the former Optimist Club fields in west Charlotte and created three new fields at an estimated cost of $7 million. Field number one will be home to the Royals baseball team, while the Queens softball team will play on the second field. As for the third field, area youth will get the opportunity to learn the game. That’s part of the foundation’s mission.

“It’s not going to work just having kids come out and play baseball,” added Daspin. “That’s not what we want. So, the thought was, how do we really engage kids, and how do we make a difference? And so, we are doing it.”

It’s not just learning to shag fly balls or the proper way to field a grounder. The athletes must crack open a book and learn about healthy lifestyles. Part of Mecklenburg County’s $2 million investment will go to putting up lights around the fields. It will also improve the education center and finish the community room expansion.

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“Everyone says it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talk like a duck, it’s a duck. Lot of baseball going on here. Yeah, it’s baseball, but it’s not baseball. The whole thing here is we’re going to create some major league citizens.

That means to keep paving the common areas and making the Tuckaseegee Dream Fields a showpiece on the west side of Charlotte, attracting area minority youth back to a place where baseball was king, and Mecklenburg county just delivered the game-winning hit.

“We haven’t been on second base before, and we’re going to score the winning run,” Daspin said.