Mesa honors fallen officer with baseball field - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Mesa honors fallen officer with baseball field

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Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014 5:51 pm

Mesa Police Sgt. Brandon Mendoza, killed May 12 in a wrong-way driving accident, was honored by Mesa this week with a decision to name after him a baseball field at Guerrero Rotary Park.

Mendoza committed himself to his beat — the neighborhood surrounding Guerrero Park. He led the community in cleaning up the streets and yards, dealing with gang violence, mentoring local kids and helping out at the nearby Boys and Girls Club.

One of Mendoza’s most notable accomplishments was cleaning up the baseball field at the park. Ridding the area of transients, drugs and violence, the park and field were slowly transformed into friendly, usable facilities thanks to his hard work.

Steve Jimenez, who founded the baseball program at the park, said Mendoza’s influence on the area is what made his efforts a success.

“He went to the park almost daily, drove up, showed his police presence … even on his off hours,” he said. “It was tremendous that somebody was dedicated like that.”

He said Mendoza was very involved with the team, came to the games, and influenced the children in the area for the better.

“It’s great. When they announced it, I was elated. It’s very, very good, especially naming the field after him. The kids were wanting that. I think that he would want that,” Jimenez said.

He also said the baseball team came to him and asked for a “play like a champion today” sign they could slap, in memory of Mendoza, on their way out to play games. Slapping the sign is a University of Notre Dame tradition to commemorate past players and those who have contributed to make the sports program successful.

City officials and Mendoza’s mother spoke at a ceremony about his contribution to the community.

“We all know that he played a major role in getting this field here and operational, so we think it’s quite fitting that we can name this field after Sergeant Mendoza,” Interim Mayor Alex Finter said at the ceremony.

The city of Mesa is raising funds to make improvements to the field — covered dugouts, an irrigation system and concrete work. Jimenez added that the field also needs more lights for night games. The public can contribute to the fund through the Foundation for Mesa Parks and Recreation.

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