01/29/11 6:30 PM EST
Acta ready to get rolling after busy offseason
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
"As soon as I put the Christmas stuff up in the attic," Acta said.
After that, it was back to the baseball mentality for Acta, who has plenty on his plate to keep his mind occupied until Spring Training opens. On Saturday, the manager and a group of his players headed to the Great Northern Mall for the second stop in the four-day "Tribe on Tour" event.
Acta's winter tour has extended well beyond the current trek through northeast Ohio, though. The manager's whirlwind winter has included trips to Arizona to check out some of the team's prospects, to Cleveland to slide down The Batterhorn at the Indians' Snow Days (plus a chance to take in his first NFL game), and back again to be at Progressive Field for the team's winter development program.
"It has been a busy winter," Acta said. "But it's been rewarding."
Somewhere between all his trips back and forth between Arizona, Cleveland and his home in Orlando, Fla., Acta did manage to squeeze in some vacation time with his family in his native Dominican Republic. He is scheduled to head back to his homeland next week, too, because a lifelong dream is about to become reality.
After wrapping up his part in the "Tribe on Tour" -- which heads to the Summit Mall in Akron from 12-4 p.m. ET on Sunday and then concludes at the SouthPark Mall from 5-9 p.m. ET in Strongsville on Monday -- Acta will head to Consuelo, D.R., to celebrate the opening of a multi-use facility for local families.
Over the past few years, Acta has used his ImpACTA Kids Foundation to help fund the construction of two baseball fields and the multi-use facility, which will include a public library, meeting hall and restrooms. A third field is currently under construction and should be completed before the end of the year.
"We're probably a year away from finishing it," Acta said. "We're very happy with how things are going."
Acta grew up in Consuelo -- in the San Pedro de Macoris region -- and it was always a dream of his to someday give back to the community where he was raised. His desire to complete the baseball facility grew in 2006, when he saw the conditions of the fields where he played baseball throughout his youth.
Shortly after being named the manager of the Nationals, Acta took a group of reporters to his hometown to show them where his life in baseball had its roots. What Acta found was an overgrown field. On a Saturday afternoon, there was not one child in sight, which more than saddened Acta.
"It broke my heart," he said.
That was the day Acta decided he needed to start his foundation. The first step after that was finding a way to clear the field. When Acta was young, the local sugarcane factory -- once located less than a mile from the fields -- maintained the area where Acta and hundreds of other kids played. The factory closed long ago -- and the local economy has suffered.
"The first thing we did was send down a lawn mower," Acta said.
It sounds so simple, but that set everything else in motion.
Now, Acta is only a few days away from opening the multi-use building to go along with the two baseball fields. The fields have dugouts and fences, which were luxuries that Acta and his friends did not have when they were kids.
"When I grew up playing there," said Acta, already laughing at the memories, "when you hit a ball, you ran until you were tagged out. Now, we have fences -- so it's fun for the kids to be able to hit a ball over the fence."
The new building will be named after Alfredo Griffin, and the fields will be named after Sammy Sosa, Julio Franco and Rico Carty -- all former players from San Pedro de Macoris. Only a few years ago, the land the complex sits on was an unusable field. Acta only had one way to describe it now.
"It's beautiful," he said.
Being on hand in the Dominican for the opening next week will surely bring a satisfying end to an overwhelming offseason for Acta.
"It's not over yet," Acta said with a grin. "After that, I'm leaving right away for Arizona."
Finally, it will be baseball season again.