St. Louis Park club seeks donations to honor Keller

A mock-up shows a plan for a scoreboard honoring Derrick Keller at a field named in his honor at Dakota Park in St. Louis Park. (Submitted art)

A mock-up shows a plan for a scoreboard honoring Derrick Keller at a field named in his honor at Dakota Park in St. Louis Park. (Submitted art)

This patch honoring Derrick Keller will be worn on all St. Louis Park High School, Legion and youth players’ jerseys during the next baseball season. (Submitted art)

This patch honoring Derrick Keller will be worn on all St. Louis Park High School, Legion and youth players’ jerseys during the next baseball season. (Submitted art)

Supporters of a new ballfield named after the late Derrick Keller are continuing to seek funds for a scoreboard honoring his life and for a permanent scholarship.

Keller, a popular St. Louis Park baseball player, died last year after a battle with leukemia.

The nonprofit St. Louis Park Dugout Club is seeking to raise $10,000 for a new scoreboard at Derrick Keller Field at Dakota Park.

If able to raise the funds for the scoreboard, the club plans to seek an additional $10,000 to $15,000 to fund an annual college scholarship for St. Louis Park High School graduating seniors.

The scholarship would award either one or two $1,000 scholarships each year, under the plan. The Dollars for Scholars program would administer the grant.

“It is our belief that honoring and recognizing Derrick and all that he stood for with a school administered scholarship program is the best way to honor him and his name long-term,” wrote John Froom, a parent and St. Louis Park Dugout Club member in an email seeking support for the initiative.

Any donation to the cause is tax-deductible.

Checks made out to the St. Louis Park Dugout Club may be sent to St. Louis Park Dugout Club, 5115 Excelsior Blvd. No. 435, St. Louis Park, MN 55416.

The St. Louis Park City Council unanimously voted Jan. 7 to waive a requirement that an individual must have died at least two years before consideration of a naming request. The council adopted the field naming change in Keller’s honor following emotional testimony from fellow baseball players and Keller’s father.

According to the club, the St. Louis Park School District’s athletic department is expected to contribute about $5,000, but organizers say they are still short of their goal.

Supporters of the honor for Keller have compiled a video including a ParkTV interview of Councilmember Steve Hallfin about the field naming honor and a video of the council hearing on the issue.

The video of about 15 minutes in length is available at youtube/yVKUUvH6kC0.

Keller played baseball with the St. Louis Park High School baseball team, the St. Louis Park Junior Legion team, the St. Louis Park Senior Legion team and the St. Louis Park Town Team. He had planned to play baseball at Southwest Minnesota State University.

His father, Bob Keller, said during the council hearing that his 18-year-old son was adamant about volunteering for a stem cell technique that had never been tested on humans before. Although Derrick Keller succumbed to complications of leukemia due to a weakened immune system, Hallfin said the procedure is already helping other people.

Bob Keller said of his son, “He said the reason he wanted to be the first human to do this was because he said even if I die, this will help the next group of children that have leukemia, and he meant it. And I wanted to say that because besides baseball, that’s who Derrick Keller was.”

A Sun Sailor article about the field naming change is available at sailor.mnsun.com/2013/01/st-louis-park-council-memorializes-keller-in-emotional-meeting.

For questions about the fundraising efforts, contact Froom at 612-751-0625.

Contact Seth Rowe at seth.rowe@ecm-inc.com

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