Diocesan News

All Hands On-Deck: Revitalized Baseball Field A Home Run with Gravesend Community

  • Xaverian High School seniors Maria Chabanov (left) and Angelina Kapllani (right) repainted faded outfield signage, to help Life Scout Michael Bruno with his Eagle Scout service project. (Photos: Erin DeGregorio)
  • The Our Lady of Grace Msgr. Sclafani Baseball Field was in need of some revitalization, according to Life Scout Michael Bruno.
  • Life Scout Michael Bruno (center) with his father Michael and mother Irma at Our Lady of Grace Msgr. Sclafani Baseball Field on August 7.
  • Weeds that had grown onto the baseball field's chain link fences were removed this summer.
  • Jesani Barrios (left) and Emma Grace Berardelli (right) repainted the walls and bench of the visitor’s dugout.
  • Teens and adults also helped to repaint the baseball field’s foul poles, among other tasks.


GRAVESEND Instead of the roar of a crowd filling the air at Our Lady of Grace Msgr. Sclafani Baseball Field, the sounds of drills and saws were heard both on and off the diamond.

Members of Boys Scouts of America Troop 376, sponsored by Our Lady of Grace Church in Gravesend, as well as community members from the parish and Catholic academy, spent August 7-9 cleaning up their ball field.

Because games haven’t been played on the diamond for more than a year due to the pandemic, the field and its surrounding areas began to look dilapidated and in need of some much-needed restoration. Patches of grass became overgrown, weeds began to take over areas outside the field’s fencing, and paint lost its shine and vibrant color.

That sight pushed Life Scout Michael Bruno to organize and execute the field clean-up as his Eagle Scout service project, prior to leaving Brooklyn in mid-August to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“I’ve won games here, lost games here, cried on the field, and rejoiced on the field,” said Bruno, an alumnus of both Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy and Xavier High School, Manhattan, who recalled spending many a night hanging out by the field’s concessions stand with his teammates after nighttime games.

“It was kind of a shame to see the field slowly fall down like that,” he added. “I wanted to bring a sense of joy back to the community, right before I left, as one last farewell.”

Teens and adults pitched in to help bring Bruno’s vision to life repainting the dugouts, repairing the concession stand’s interior, getting the on-site restroom functioning again, and re-padding the field’s light poles, among other tasks.

Outside the field, Colin Thompson, a junior at John Dewey High School, Gravesend, did some landscaping with his fellow scouts. 

“Bruno has been a friend of mine ever since I met him and I know he needs my help,” said Thompson, who has been a scout for the last five years. “This place was a mess and it’s better for the kids to play on a field that’s clean, well kept, and managed.”

Junior high school students Jesani Barrios and Emma Grace Berardelli tag-teamed to sand and repaint the walls and bench of the visitor’s dugout.

“I’ve done weed working before and a lot of painting and sanding, but I’ve never redone a baseball field,” Troop 376 member Barrios said with a laugh.

“Me too,” echoed Berardelli, who came to support Troop 376 because Bruno is a family friend. “I’m excited because this is my first time doing it.”

Down the third-base line in left field, two Xaverian High School seniors were reminiscing about their grammar school years as they repainted faded outfield signage.

“Coming back here all these years later reminded us of all the memories that we had at this baseball field,” said Angelina Kapllani, who attended Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy from 2013 to 2017. “We would come here every year as a school and would have a field day, throwing water balloons and having ice cream.”

“By coming here to paint a few signs and revitalize the dugout, we can uphold the legacy and maybe the memories for the next generation of kids who want to have field days and other sporting events here,” she continued. 

“It feels good knowing that we’re a part of this field and that it will continue long term, for years and years to come,” added Maria Chabanov, who graduated from Our Lady of Grace in 2018.

Irma Bruno, Michael’s mother, was proud to see all the work Troop 376 and local neighbors were putting into the field noting that they were only halfway done on the first day, August 7.

“I don’t think it’s ever been touched up and redone like this for a long, long time,” Irma said on the sidelines.

“Michael was so determined to see this get done before he left for college,” she added. “Scouting is something he loves and there was no way he was not going to do this.”