Field Dedicated to Baseball Activist

Field Dedicated to Baseball Activist

CYA coach remembered with naming of Franklin Farms Park.

Fairfax County officials honored the passing of long-time Herndon-area resident, Chantilly Youth Association activist and baseball enthusiast Dave Denne last month by naming a 60-foot Franklin Farms baseball diamond in his honor.

Denne, a Little League and girls softball coach as well as a former commissioner of Chantilly Little League Baseball, was touted at the May 24 ceremony by several community leaders who had worked with him over the course of his more than 20-year career in Northern Virginia youth baseball. The former baseball enthusiast died in the fall of 2006 from complications following a stroke, according to friends. He was 53.

“Dave was such a good person and he really wanted to do more for his community than was ever asked of him,” said Hal Strickland, Fairfax County Park Authority Board chairman and friend of Denne. “He was one of those guys that just wanted to do as much as he could to make the kids’ experience better.”

The field naming ceremony was done after local and state officials who had known of Denne and his career with Chantilly Youth Association wrote county officials in December of last year, proposing the honor, according to county documents.

WHEN IT CAME time to find a way to honor Denne’s years of service to the community and local parks, there was only one thing that Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey had to consider.

“Once you’ve got it, it’s just something about baseball that keeps you hooked,” Frey said. “He was a lifelong [baseball] fan … and we couldn’t think of a more fitting way to preserve what he has done for this community.”

Denne coached girls softball until the day he died and devoted much of his life as a community member to make people’s lives better through playing the sport, said Strickland.

“He would do anything, he would never say ‘well, why don’t you?’” instead “he was always saying ‘why don’t you let me?’” said Strickland.

THAT LEGACY will be remembered more thoroughly, Frey said, since the county is currently looking at a way of increasing the field’s honorary plaque to include information of what Denne meant to his teams and the Chantilly Youth Association.

“People know who he is now … but 10, 20 years down the road, people ought to know who the person is behind the name on the field,” said Frey. “We just want to remind people many years from now what he gave to the community.”

That won’t be hard if those who have worked with Denne over the years continue to spread word of mouth about how he has impacted their lives, said Strickland.

“Anyone he worked with, people could just get along with him so well,” he said. “In my years of knowing him, I can never say that he wasn’t a likable guy.”

“He will be missed,” said Frey, “at the start of every baseball season we’ll think of Dave Denne.”