Vandals burn youth team's baseball park

Posted at 5:17 PM, Sep 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-25 17:17:29-04

MONTEREY-SALINAS, CA (KSBW/CNN) -  A community of baseball players and their families are coming together after vandals damaged their field. The team had to cancel its fall Babe Ruth baseball season, but hopes to get the field ready by spring.

But in Hollister now, the stands are empty.  "These folks would normally be out here watching their kids play baseball,” said Greg Lopez outside San Benito Babe Ruth Baseball Field. Instead they are cleaning up the mess left behind by vandals. 

"So, this is where the shed used to be,” said Lopez, who helps run the Babe Ruth league. The shed was burned down and now sits in pieces in a dumpster. "Our golf cart that we use to use is now just a pile of metal,” Lopez said.

In all, thousands of dollars in damage and the field is red-tagged for no use. “It could take up to six months to get just that light pole and electrical fixed, which is scary because that puts us right back into the heart of our spring season. And I don't want to have to cancel another season for these kids,” Lopez said.

That means a lost season for kids like Christian, known on the field as CP.  "I just love the feeling of playing baseball, getting out here and doing it with your friends. I do have dreams to play for the Giants one day,” said CP Puccinelli, a San Benito Royals player.

He credits the action on the field with teaching him how to get back up when life knocks you down. "He used to run our butts off and, like, everything, and then we actually had a championship where we lost one time. I was pitching in the seventh inning and we had a little, a few mistakes here and there. But after the game, we just said hey, we're teammates, we support each other, we don't pull each other down. And we'll get through this next season,” said Alex Vodanovich of San Benito High School.

It’s now teamwork on and off the field as the cleanup begins .  The team says it had more than 75 teens registered to play in the fall. 

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