At his retirement celebration Oct. 13, Noah Jones learned that Los Banos’ Seventh Street Ballpark has been renamed “Officer Noah Jones Ballpark.”
The designation was appropriate because the ballpark has been the home to hundreds of softball and baseball games offered through the PAL (Police Athletic League) program, which Jones has directed for the past 23 years.
The renaming was a surprise to Jones and came after months of work by members of the PAL Steering Committee.
“We needed the support of many people and agencies to make this happen,” said Marci Fahey (a PAL Steering Committee for 17 years), including the Los Banos City Council, Merced County Supervisor Scott Silveira and the Merced County Spring Fair Board.
“It all started,” Fahey said, “when I went in February to my city councilmember, Brett Jones, with what may have seemed like a crazy idea. Brett was immediately and fully supportive and received in turn the support of Mayor Paul Llanez and City Manager Josh Pinheiro.”
But there was more to be done. The four ballparks on Seventh Street are on property that is under the joint management of not only the city but the county and the fair board.
So Fahey went first to Silveira and then the fair board and eventually, in August, received the support of all agencies.
“One of the toughest parts of the whole process,” she said, “was keeping it a secret from Noah.”
Jones was indeed surprised at the end of the retirement celebration, which started at 6 p.m. Oct. 13 and included speeches by Llanez, Interim Parks and Recreation Director Joe Heim, two adults who once were part of the PAL program as players (Stacia Orr and Megan Fahey), one current player (Gwen Sagouspe), Los Banos Police Commander Ray Reyna, Samantha and Grant Jones, Noah’s children and Noah’s wife, Ashley.
During the retirement event there was recognition of Gregg Wilson, the Los Banos police officer who started PAL in Los Banos 36 years ago, and of the Junior Giants Program, which has supported baseball and softball in Los Banos for three decades by providing players with free uniforms, caps and gloves.
“Noah Jones has done so much for our community, for both young people and adults,” Fahey said, “without calling attention to himself. The PAL board and everyone involved in the process thought naming this ballpark in his honor was a good way to honor him.”
Here is the link to the YouTube video on the entire ceremony for those who want to watch the ceremony: