MANSFIELD, Ohio (WJW) – It’s a bizarre first for a Mansfield little league team now scrambling to raise thousands of dollars to replace two stolen bleachers.
“Two of these giant wooden sets of bleachers disappeared from this spot,” said Jim Nicholson, the treasurer of the Mansfield South West Little League baseball organization.
Nicholson and the league president Rocky Snelling were stunned to discover the heavy bleachers stolen last week.
“Roughly over 40 years this is the very first time this has ever happened, it is very shocking,” said Snelling.
Organizers said they filed a report with police but are still struggling to understand how such large items could be stolen.
“A vehicle must have entered the property from the parking lot up here drove down to this area and apparently, they had some pretty heavy equipment or really strong guys got them onto the back of a truck. They were two sets of tire tracks,” said Nicholson.
The cost to replace the stolen items will be difficult, with the season already underway and hundreds of spectators expected for upcoming games and tournaments after COVID-19 canceled last season.
“To steal bleachers like this that have not that much value, but the replacing cost is a lot for a nonprofit like ours,” Nicholson said. “It’s difficult to replace $5,000 worth of bleachers.”
Snelling said the league of 275 kids is considered small compared to other baseball leagues in the area. It includes a challenger league for children with special needs. The league sponsors about a third of their athletes for them to play ball. Each athlete sponsored can cost up to $90.
As a nonprofit their focus is getting kids on the field but now, they are worried about not having enough places for spectators to watch the game. The benches stolen provided seats for 30 people.
Snelling said he wants the person or group who stole from the ballpark to know the crime will not stop them from getting on with the game.
“Thank you actually because you actually surprised me in a way that nobody has before,” he said. “I knew bad things happen in this world, but I never expected somebody to steal bleachers so now I know to expect the unexpected.”
A fundraiser has been set up and can be found right here.