Baseball Field Renaming Surprises City Officials

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AVON LAKE, Ohio-- The unofficial renaming of a baseball field at Bleser Park in Avon Lake caught city officials off guard.

Michael J. Mannino is well known around the baseball fields in that city.

"He worked with foster kids. He worked with youth sports, basketball, baseball. He was one of those guys that just didn't talk about it; he actually did it," said Gary Gerrone, the Recreation Director for the City of Avon Lake.

Mannino was recently honored at a ceremony for 35 years of service as a league director, a coach, an umpire, a mentor and past president of the Avon Lake Youth Baseball Federation.

In that ceremony, the Youth Baseball Federation stated they would rename the field at Besler Park in his honor.

"The last few minutes, when it was announced that they were going to rename the field, it was a bit of a surprise to us," Gerrone said.

Mayor Greg Zilka told FOX 8 the announcement came as a surprise, because nobody from the Federation sought city approval.

There is a good chance this field could still be renamed Michael J. Mannino field but it must first go through a chain of command including a petition to the Parks and Recreation Committee; then it would be passed on to the Public Service Committee and if supported there, ultimately it would reach city council.

At that point it could be approved and this field could be renamed.

Jonathan Leonard, President of Avon Lake Youth Baseball Federation said in an e-mail to FOX 8 that "For all baseball and softball scheduling and ALYBF business, the field situated in the southwest quadrant of Bleser Park shall be now and forever known as Michael J. Mannino Field at Bleser Park. It was not the Federation's initial intent to officially have the City rename the field. However, at the request of the City of Avon Lake the ALYBF is now petitioning to have an offical renaming take place. We are working with the proper City officials to follow the protocol necessary for that to happen."

If the renaming gets approved, those who know Michael J. Mannino believe it will be a home-run.

"We're all going to make sure it happens," said Gerrone.  "Mike is an incredible contributor to not only baseball but to our community and he is very deserving of something great."

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