LOS BANOS -- A $20,000 makeover will polish Los Banos' Seventh Street baseball diamond into a gem of a facility for the city -- thanks to an online contest that rallied the community.
"I'm shaking, I'm excited," said Police Activities League officer Noah Jones on Thursday. "I'm all excited."
The PAL officer said he got word Thursday morning that Los Banos was chosen from the top three finalists to receive the $20,000 Junior Giants Buster's Ballfield Makeover.
Los Banos residents came together for a worthwhile cause, Jones said, by casting the most votes in a Facebook contest that ended Sept. 3.
Though Los Banos had the most votes, the decision had to go through a committee that included San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, officials of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. and a representative of the Giants Community Fund.
Jones said waiting for the call on the committee's decision was nerve-wracking. "I'm glad we got the answer we worked so hard for," Jones said.
The organizers named Los Banos PAL the winner in a ceremony Saturday that featured Jones and Posey at home plate in AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The second- and third-place parks, according to the contest's Facebook page, were Enslen Park in Modesto and Nolan Park in Cottonwood. Atwater's Veterans Park finished fifth.
The contest promises to refurbish the PAL diamond, at Seventh and E streets in Los Banos, by adding dirt, reseeding the field, painting adjacent buildings, installing new bases and refurbishing the dugouts.
Hoping for Posey visit
Jones said organizers told him they would try to get Posey to the park after the work is done, for an opening ceremony, but "there's no guarantee," he said.
The contest proved Los Banos can come together to support a community project, Jones said.
The Seventh Street diamond had consistently held the No. 1 spot since the contest began in June. Because all of the voting was done through Facebook, Jones said, PAL coaches and players got family members from out of the state to support the Los Banos effort with their votes.
"It's been a positive thing, and it's brought the community together," he said.
According to the contest entry, Los Banos PAL has offered the Junior Giants program at no charge to children ages 5 to 13 since 1991. About 450 participated in this summer's baseball league, and softball drew more than 330.
PAL also runs programs for flag football and T-ball.
Los Banos Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or email@example.com.