SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Matt Cain has led the Giants in wins, been named an All-Star and is widely regarded as one of the best young starting pitchers in the game. He's struck out future Hall of Famers and, four different times, taken no-hit bids into the seventh inning. He's accomplished many great things in his five-plus seasons in the Major Leagues, but he also remembers plays that happened when the stakes weren't so high, especially one in particular -- a triple play he turned as a youngster.
"Memories like that you never forget," Cain said. "The simple things, when you're just out having fun and playing with your buddies and going out and just enjoying being outside and playing with other kids." On Tuesday morning, the Giants Community Fund, the Good Tidings Foundation, the city of Sacramento and Cain gave Sacramento youth the opportunity to create memories such as Cain's with the dedication of Matt Cain Junior Giants Field. The field, part of the Peter A. Magowan Fields for Kids Program that has built more than 20 fields in the past 11 years, is located at Sacramento's George Sim Community Center. Sacramento councilman Kevin McCarty was a key part in attracting the Giants Community Fund to Sacramento. McCarty, who in a few weeks will begin his sixth year of coaching in the Sacramento Junior Giants program, said the old field was "old grass, a backstop and a couple bases thrown down." Now, Matt Cain Junior Giants Field is part of three fields at the center, including a new T-ball field and an older field. And while area children will now have a nicer place to play, McCarty also said he hopes the league will help teach the lessons of life. "This is a league that really instills upon that, life lessons and baseball lessons, and helping young people become better citizens and productive adults," McCarty said. "It all starts with the fields, and we had some tired fields and now we have beautiful fields, and we hope that will instill a sense of pride and really enhance those experiences." This season, the Sacramento Junior Giants are hoping to enjoy one of their finest seasons. Ken McCulloch, commissioner of the organization, said more than 200 players have signed up for the summer, up from about 150 to 180 in previous years. This season there will be 14 teams made up of 12 to 15 players each. Although play hasn't yet started, McCulloch said he has been on the field practicing with a few kids, all of whom haven't been able to take their eyes off the new field. "Their eyes were wide open watching them [work on the field]," McCulloch said. "They were looking over there and saying, 'What's going on? That's where we're playing? It's an actual field.' We're all looking forward to it. They say diamonds are forever; well, this baseball diamond will be forever." And, as Cain knows, so will be the memories created on it.
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.