Muhammad and Lonnie Ali among those who donated funds for new facilities

Published 11:27 am Monday, May 15, 2006

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Niles High School baseball program now has a new field to call its own.
After years of playing baseball games at the city's Thomas Stadium, the Vikings turned an old practice field into a ‘field of dreams' thanks to the generous donations of a few individuals.
At Saturday morning's dedication ceremony, held in the gymnasium at the high school, players, coaches, school officials and guests took the time to recognize the people who made this project possible. Among them were Vice President of Park Operations for the Detroit Tigers Mike Healy and Muhammad and Lonnie Ali and a representative from Box Entertainment.
The Niles High School band and cheerleaders provided the entertainment before the ceremonies began. After the Alis entered the gym - before a standing crowd - the freshman, junior varsity and varsity baseball teams opened the ceremonies by shaking hands with all of the special guests.
Law didn't spend much time at the podium before introducing Niles High School principal Jim Knoll. Knoll is a Niles High School graduate and proudly wore his bright yellow baseball jacket which he wore during his playing days as a Viking.
Lonnie went on to talk about her son, Asaad, who got his start at Pepper Martin Park when he was 8 years old. Asaad, now a freshman, plays on the varsity team.
Tammy Watson also gave a speech about her son, Lyle, who has played on the varsity team for four years and also got his start at a very early age. Tammy and husband Tom were always very busy while their children were growing up, which, a lot of times, Tammy admitted was very hard.
Healy was very pleased with the field's overall appearance and was glad to be able to help with such a special project.
Lonnie then took the stand again and thanked the people who had helped with the project, including Muhammad's assistant Kim Vite and Niles parent Vicki Jurgonski.
Danaher also thanked Bill Messner from Wolverine Electric for his help with the scoreboard and all of the electrical projects and ended the ceremonies with the three words that every baseball player loves … “Let's play ball.”
After the ceremonies, refreshments were available for all and guests were able to check out the new baseball field, where the varsity team prepared for their tournament.
The Vikes defeated Coloma in the opening game 3-2, but rain canceled the other two games.