I’ve got a special place in my heart for Little Leaguers, having spent countless summer weekends posted up on splintered bleachers watching my younger brother play. At the time, I thought it was the worst thing in the world. (I would’ve preferred to spend my weekends trolling AOL Instant Messenger or hornily eyeing the neighborhood lifeguard.) But in hindsight, those days were pretty idyllic, full of opportunities to tan my pasty legs, eat Blue Raspberry Airheads, and listen to prepubescent boys scream lukewarm profanities. So you can imagine why a recent slew of Little League snack bar vandalism rubbed me the wrong ways. Those are my boys!
The vandalism occurred in Lake Elsinore, California, at the youth baseball program’s Swick-Matich Park. The local news outlet The Press-Enterprise reports that the team’s 2021 season was temporarily halted due to coronavirus restrictions. But as the program was starting to gain momentum once more, vandals broke into the team’s snack bar three separate times, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
The break-ins occurred June 2, July 9, and July 12. The Press-Enterprise reported “stolen kitchen equipment, food and drinks, [and] splattered nacho cheese and syrup,” as well as two stolen pitching machines valued at $1,700 each. Vandals also apparently defecated on the teams’ All-Star tournament jerseys. Awesome, guys. Killer prank.
“We’ve won a lot of games and had a lot of reasons to celebrate, especially going to state championships,” League President Jovanny Huerta told The Press-Enterprise. “This really puts a damper on it—now we don’t even have the money to do our annual All-Star banquet, no money for team trophies, nothing to celebrate our accomplishments.”
Fortunately, the Little League community is banding together to clean up the mess. As physical cleanup efforts continue, a GoFundMe account for recovery efforts has raised more than $4,000 as of Wednesday, July 21. Other local Little Leagues have donated, and the Lake Elsinore Storm minor league team is even contributing a portion of its ticket sales toward the effort. “I think the immediate goal is to try and cover their loss, but if we can go above and beyond and raise as much as possible, I’m all for it,” Shaun Brock, the Storm’s CEO and co-general manager, said by email. Ultimately, this isn’t Sandlot prankery. This is pure asshole behavior. To the Lake Elsinore vandals: meet me under the bleachers at midnight. I’ve got a few choice words for you.