KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WWMT) — Baseball Hall of Famer and former Kalamazooian Derek Jeter unveiled a multi-million-dollar gift to Kalamazoo Central High School Tuesday.
The former Kalamazoo Central "giant" worked with his foundation, Turn 2, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, Kalamazoo Public Schools and Elite Companies to renovate the school's existing baseball and softball fields, according to officials.
“Our foundation’s programs work to empower young people here in Kalamazoo to lead healthy and successful lives, and our hope with these new fields is that they feel empowered and that they can set their minds to anything,” Jeter said while standing at home plate.
Worth $5 million, the project completely transformed the fields, outfitting both with the following:
Both fields were also reoriented, allowing batters to face the pitching mound to the northeast in order to lower the impact of low afternoon and evening sun angles on the players' vision, officials said.
Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Education approved a donation agreement between the foundation and the district at its meeting June 8.
Many professional athletes have given back and this is really a generous thing for the Turn 2 Foundation which was founded by Derek Jeter and his family," Trustee Patti Sholler-Barber said. "These types of things are stellar for our students and our community.
Since December 1996, the Turn 2 Foundation has established and supported programs and activities aiming to motivate individuals to turn away from drugs and alcohol, and pursue healthy lifestyles.
Over the last 27 years, the foundation has given back more than $34 million to fund programs and organizations supporting the foundation's mission, according to officials.