Baseball NEW YORK — Chase Utley is a cool dad.He's an lifer. He's California mellow, friends with big-time actors. Utley retired after the 2018 season, something he saw coming and planned for. He wanted to stop getting on planes and traveling; as a family man, he wanted to stay home. Utley wanted to spend more time with his two sons, ages 4 and 7. He wanted to do simple dad things like put them to bed at night and take them to school. Utley was recently a dugout monitor for his son's T-ball squad. Kind of like herding cats, right?"It's worse, it's worse than herding cats," Utley says. MORE: Watch 'ChangeUp,' a new live whiparound show on DAZNFor Utley, a potential Hall of Famer, it doesn't get much cooler than that. And much like any father, everything Utley does is done with his sons' best interests in mind — including one simple, but increasingly difficult task:"I just want (my kids) outside," Utley told Sporting News with a smile.Getting kids to get outside — let alone play baseball — can be a hard bargain, especially when smart phones, iPads, video games and computers dominate everyday life. Aside from the technology, Utley thinks getting kids involved with baseball is actually simple, and it starts at a young age with something of a Herculean task: fixing the country's baseball fields."I grew up playing in Long Beach, playing on beautiful, beautiful fields," Utley told SN. "That created a great vision in my mind. It made me want to go to the baseball field."Utley's love for baseball and realistic approach to one of its biggest issues are what drew him to the Scotts Field Refurbishment program. Scotts, in a partnership with , issues grants to four community organizations across the country every year, with 2019 the fourth year of the program. One of the program's main goals is to help prop up communities that have been devastated by poverty o

r economic hardships. The majority, if not all, of communities and organizations involved with the program want to help youth who have rarely or never played baseball get into the game.With the grant money, the organizations modernize, refurbish and renovate community fields, providing players with safe and playable diamonds across the country. In 2019, grants were awarded to organizations in Chicago, Mount Vernon, N.Y., Allentown, Pa., and Wewoka, Okla. By the end of 2019, Scotts will have neared $2.5 million donated throughout the life of the program.The program has clearly benefited those downtrodden communities: For Wewoka, a 1980s economic downturn and loss of viable employment torpedoed the city's ability to sustain proper playing surfaces and propagate the benefits of baseball and community involvement. Now that funds are in place to refurbish fields, upkeep of the facilities falls on the city. But more than anything, it opens the door for more kids to play."(I loved my fields) not only because I enjoyed baseball — the grass was green. The smell of cut grass," Utley said, reminiscing. "That experience is a positive experience in my upbringing. I would want that for every kid."But there's also a tough reality: Not all kids will have the same opportunity to play on great fields like Utley grew up with in Long Beach. Not all kids will get to take in the beauty of a field or its modernity or its familiar baseball aroma.In 2019, there were more than 350 grant applications across 300 cities in 46 states seeking repairs and upgrades to their youth fields. Not all will be selected, but the program shows no sign of stopping. While the program benefits many, it obviously comes with challenges."You want every field to be perfect; obviously that's not totally realistic because it comes with a cost," Utley said. "… Unfortunately, not every child has an opportunity to have a beautiful field."Maybe more than any other sport, baseball fields require constant maintenance: good mound care, fresh cut grass and visible boundaries are some of the musts. With basketball courts and soccer or football fields, there's not as much to worry about. "With baseball it's a little more difficult, in the amount of grooming and maintenance it needs to flourish and be safe," Utley said. "That's why teaming with (Scotts and ) is important, to help facilitate that and create these fields that are amazing and beautiful that you'd want to spend time at."The field needs a little love. A little love."