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The home fields for the Rainier District Little League sit at the intersection of Rainier Avenue South and Alaska Street, just south of Columbia City’s historic downtown. Maintained by the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, the playfield includes two youth/softball diamonds and one full-sized diamond, which also serves as the home field for the Franklin High School Quakers. In addition to lights for night-time playing, the fields include chain-link backstops, dugouts, and the full-dirt infields/ natural-grass outfields that are typical of most of the 110 ballfields in the Seattle parks system. Over the past two seasons, the RDLL has enhanced the playing experience by purchasing a portable mound and portable fencing.

The property was purchased in 1910, thanks in large part to the Olmsted Brothers, the firm responsible for designing Seattle’s visionary and extensive urban parks system. While the Olmsted master plan focused on park and boulevard development, it also promoted something utterly new in American cities: playgrounds. According John Charles Olmsted, a pioneer of the concept, playgrounds were a necessity for a civilized society. Children, he believed, would learn fairness and decency via sports on the playground. In the firm’s 1908 report to the Park Commissioners, Olmsted recommended locating small parks and playgrounds, oriented toward young children and women with babies, within a half-mile of every home in Seattle, including on this parcel of land.

Linnea Westerlind, author of Discovering Seattle Parks: A Local’s Guide, writes, “With nearly every possible amenity neatly packed into its almost 10 acres, Rainier Playfield is one of a handful of what I like to think of as neighborhood hubs. These parks offer people living nearby a central place to find every type of recreational activity: Community center, tennis courts, football, baseball and softball fields, play areas, and open lawns for informal games.”

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