Local little league looking to replace stolen equipment

9OYS viewer Brea Colvin let us know about the theft at the Thornydale Little League field. Her son Hunter and his four siblings play in the league's different baseball and softball divisions. (Courtesy: Brea Colvin)

Local little league looking to replace stolen equipment

CREATED Jan 15, 2013

Reporter: Justin Schecker

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The game of baseball wouldn't be the same without stolen bases. But what happens when someone actually steals the bases from a little league field?

A 9 On Your Side viewer reached out to us, saying her children's league needs help raising money to replace stolen equipment. 

Thornydale Little League plays its games at the Arthur Pack Regional Park baseball fields on the northwest side. The season doesn't start until March, but before then, parents who put in the time to run the league need to raise $1,500 to replace stolen equipment.

John Mertes played baseball growing up and now he's passing on the love of the game to his sons, who play in the Thornydale league. 

"I coach teams every season," Mertes said. "I coach both my boys so I spend a lot of time at the park."

Mertes and his son still can't believe what went down last week at the Arthur Pack Park. 

"Nine-year-olds have an opinion on everything, he was like why would someone steal from our park," Mertes said. "I'm like well, I don't know. The stuff they stole doesn't really make sense because there is not much resale value."

"It looks like someone used a pretty big crowbar to break into them," said Brian Bottorff, who works for the park's maintenance crew. 

Nine On Your Side asked him whether theft has happened before at the baseball fields. 

"No, this is unusual, very unusual," Bottorff said. 

Mertes said someone also broke into the league batting cage and tried breaking into a second lock box, but failed.

The stolen items include six bases, umpire protective equipment and the chalk machine used to paint the foul lines, Mertes said. He added the value of what is missing is about $1,500.  

While that doesn't sound like much, Mertes said it's money the cash-strapped non-profit league doesn't have in its budget. 

"This is the first year we've ever had to raise our rates and this was before the theft and destruction of our property," Mertes said. "And it's frustrating, they steal from the kids and it comes right out of our bottom line."

The mother who contacted 9 On Your Side via Facebook said she hopes this story will help get the word out. The league's first registration is Saturday at Thornydale Elementary School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. where he thinks some parents will make donations.