It was little more than a dirt field with a backstop. But to kids growing up in San Pedro from the 1940s to 1970s, the baseball diamond was a Saturday morning haven.
Bobby Dillon Field is long gone, swept away by the march of progress. At noon Saturday, a bronze plaque will be placed near the old field location as a tribute to the role it played in so many young lives.
Augie Bezmalinovich of the Port of Los Angeles said the proposal for the plaque grew out of the 2010 opening of the port's 22nd Street Park where the field once stood.
Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, a "history buff," asked one of her staffers to research the old ball field after she learned about it, Bezmalinovich said.
What: Plaque dedication commemorating the community contributions of the late Bobby Dillon and Dillon Field.
Where: Former site of the field at the 22nd Street Park on 22nd near Miner streets, San Pedro
When: Noon Saturday
The field originally gained official status in 1958 when Dillon founded the Cabrillo Bay League of Western Boys Baseball Association. Called the Cabrillo Bay Little League Field - it also was home to the Pee-Wee League - the field name was changed to Dillon Field in honor of the beloved youth baseball coach who died unexpectedly in 1962 of a heart attack. He was 42 years old.
His son, Bobby Dillon Jr., was 10 years old at the time. He will be among those at the ceremony honoring the field.
"He'd be very humbled," Dillon said when asked what his father would think of it all. "He didn't move toward the limelight even though there was a lot of light around him."
Dillon recalled playing at the field as a youngster.
"It was sandy like the beach," he said. "And there were red ants in the outfield. It was very rustic."
The Cabrillo Bay Little League - which later merged with another group to play at nearby Bloch Field - was a unique reflection of San Pedro, Dillon said, adding that his dad made sure the teams included kids from all of the town's multiethnic neighborhoods.
Team names also reflected San Pedro - the Squids, the Sea Lions and the Sharks.
San Pedro CPA Bob Moore's dad, Pete, now 93, coached alongside Dillon's father and also will attend Saturday's dedication.
Their fathers were both longshoremen who spent their spare time coaching kids, he said.
"I remember having fun and learning the fundamentals of the game," Bob Moore said of his memories. "Bobby Dillon was a great teacher, he taught us how to throw, hit and run the bases. He was a patient man."
The plaque will help preserve a unique part of the town's history, Moore said.
"The port town has a long history of longshoremen being active in sports and coaching and training and developing kids," he said.