Merced County Times Newspaper
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Merced renames sports park in honor of Dave Nannini

The late Dave Nannini, a longtime Merced Youth Baseball advocate, is the inspiration behind the new name of a sports park in south Merced.
The late Dave Nannini, a longtime Merced Youth Baseball advocate, is the inspiration behind the new name of a sports park in south Merced.

Back in the 1980s, Dave Nannini, along with several members of the North Merced Rotary Club, worked with the City of Merced to build ball fields for the Little Guys Baseball and Little Miss Softball programs.

Those early efforts led to the 1997 opening of the Merced Sports Complex located on Wardrobe Avenue in south Merced.

“Dave Nannini was the driving force behind the ball fields throughout many years,” recalls Don Bragonier, a Rotarian who helped in the effort. “He worked tirelessly to build up the programs which he continued long after his own boys aged out of youth sports. … Anybody who worked with or knew Dave understands his lifelong commitment to young people and to the youth sports programs.”

Bragonier and the Merced Rotary Club joined a local effort in recent months to rename the Sports Complex in honor of Nannini, who passed away in April at the age of 71.

In May, a longtime Nannini family friend, Dora Crane, submitted an application to the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission in order to change the park’s name. The commission voted 4-0 in favor of the idea.

And last week, the Merced City Council approved the name change in a unanimous vote.

“I can’t see a more worthy person or family to attribute this after,” said Council member Delray Shelton during the July 5 meeting. “This has my full support.”

From now on, all the ball fields, soccer fields, stands, concession booth, and restrooms at 1800 Wardrobe Avenue will be part of the “Naninni Youth Sports Complex.”

Supporters say it’s a fitting tribute to a man who spent more than 40 years leading and supporting the Merced Youth Baseball organization — not only as an advocate, but as perennial Little League coach, in addition to family and work obligations.

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