Vandals strike again at Wasilla baseball field
Ken Ottinger is used to yardwork-- even when it includes his second home, Wasilla's McManus Field.
Ottinger is the head coach of the American Legion Post 35 baseball team.
"Our plan was to come out here and start cutting the grass, getting the dirt turned over, getting the field into playable condition," says Ottinger, but his new season may be in jeopardy.
Vandals spray painted vulgar pictures around home plate-- but that's not the only place.
Similar pictures and words line the wall of the home dugout-- and there's even more damage.
"Here's what they've done here. They pulled this off-- out-- the framing-- this is where we kept all of our equipment-- it was deadbolted," says Ottinger.
The crooks badly damaged a riding mower used to help prepare the field for games. They also took out bats, balls, helmets and catcher’s equipment and left them on the field in the rain. It's not known how much of that equipment can be saved.
The damage occurred earlier this week.
The vandals caused roughly $5,000 in damage, but this is not the first time they have struck here.
The last couple of years saw them break into the concession stand and steal equipment used to run the scoreboard, and PA system. Add in the restrooms they damaged, this is the third straight year vandals has struck at the ball field.
"It's heartbreaking. We're past the point of anger. It's heartbreaking to see their hard work just destroyed out of senseless acts; there's no benefit for anybody to do anything. Or maybe the PA system they stole, that's something they may use, but to spray paint our dugouts and destroy property, it's just senseless," says Ottinger.
American Legion Post 35 sponsors the team and operates the field. Post leaders are also not happy by what happened.
"It just made me sick. You try to have something nice for the community and our baseball team we sponsor, you see this type of damage-- total disregard-- it just makes you upset to your stomach," says Post 35 Commander Ron Travis.
The damage is more than the Post and the team can afford.
"We literally don't have the money to replace $400-worth of catcher's gear, another $300-worth of helmets and another $1,000-worth of baseballs," says Ottinger.
That's jeopardized the team's season, but Ottinger remains hopeful.
"The field is going to be very playable. It's just going to take a lot of elbow grease to get it back to where it was," Ottinger said, as he has stepped up to the plate to help make sure his team can play ball on a field of dreams that has suddenly become a nightmare.
Questions or comments about this story? Email sports reporter Dave Leval.
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