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Soto, Big Z pitch in for new youth field

Soto, Big Z pitch in for new youth field

CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano and catcher Geovany Soto helped residents of Humboldt Park break ground for the construction of Little Cubs Field on Wednesday.

"It was special for us," Zambrano said of the event. "I'm very happy for the Cubs to do that. It's great for the community. Hopefully, more good things can come."

The design of Little Cubs Field highlights some of the well-known elements of Wrigley Field. The scoreboard will be reminiscent of the famed Wrigley marquee, and the pitchers will be able to warm up in bullpens along the first- and third-base sidelines just like the pros. The seating will feature 480 covered grandstand seats, as well as 280 outfield bleacher seats, similar to the highly sought-after bleachers at the Cubs' ballpark.

Could Soto imagine playing in a ballpark this nice?

"It would've been awesome," Soto said. "A little Wrigley Field -- I think the kids there will be motivated to play."

Zambrano and Soto joined alderman Billy Ocasio, Chicago Park District superintendent Tim Mitchell, the youth baseball players of Humboldt Park and others at the ceremony. The Cubs teamed with the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and Ocasio to raise $2 million to make the ballpark a reality. The field will be built in cooperation with the Chicago Park District and the Parkways Foundation.

"Little Cubs Field will not only be a wonderful asset to Humboldt Park, it will also support opportunities for neighborhood children to learn and grow through baseball," said Timothy Mitchell, Chicago Park District superintendent. "This project is one of many examples of the Chicago Cubs' longstanding commitment to support our parks and contribute to the quality of life in communities across the city."

Ocasio called the project a "great team effort."

"We're excited to bring this great new stadium for the people of Humboldt Park," Ocasio said.

Zambrano and Soto addressed the 500 kids who attended the ceremony, and spoke Spanish to the crowd, much to the delight of the group.

"It's pretty amazing for the kids," Zambrano said of the facility. "That community is middle class and poor class, and having a stadium like that will have a big impact for them. They can feel like they're in Wrigley Field. Hopefully, good things come from that ballpark and a good player for the Cubs comes from that ballpark."

Use of Little Cubs Field will be controlled by the Chicago Park District. In addition to 350 Humboldt Park children who currently use the fields, the Park District will work with the community to bring more youth out to the diamond, as the aim is to encourage continued participation in baseball and softball for generations to come.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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