LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Someone tried to ruin the summer of some kids who want to play baseball.
Thieves broke into Lamar Porter field and stole thousands of dollars-worth of equipment from the Little Rock RBI Baseball league.
“They cut into the fence outside and came in, and then cut into the concourse of Lamar Porter Field, where we play our games,” explained Dillon Hupp, the league’s commissioner. “And they stole a four-wheeler—an ATV that belongs to the league—and then they came up here to the concession stand and they stole some brand-new baseball equipment that had just been donated to the league. They stole almost the entire inventory of concessions, that we had just re-stocked the concession stand. And then on top of taking all of that, they completely trashed and vandalized the concession stand when they were done.”
Hupp believes the break-in happened either Thursday night or early Friday morning. The stadium was closed after games on Thursday, and the destruction was not noticed until a team finished its practice Friday evening.
Hupp and the two other administrators of RBI stayed through the night and cleaned up as much as they could before games resumed Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Many parents, including Tammy Small, did not notice that anything sinister had taken place. She said she was very surprised to find that someone robbed the league.
“And that is so awful, so whoever did that, you’re terrible!” she exclaimed. “It’s awful to do this in this environment. It’s just terrible!”
She said her son has played in several leagues around Little Rock, but RBI is her favorite to date.
Thieves steal baseball equipment from Little Rock's RBI Baseball league
“I think this program is focused on the kids, and that’s very important,” she stated. “Because this is something for them to do to keep them off the streets.”
RBI, which stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, is an initiative founded by Major League Baseball. It is meant for families who might not be able to afford or access other leagues. Hupp said many players only bring gloves with them. Most of the bats, helmets, and catcher’s gear is shared among all the 100-plus players in the program.
“When they stole a set of catcher’s equipment, they weren’t just stealing some brand-new baseball equipment,” Hupp stated, “they were stealing it from literally every team and every player in this league.”
They might also have stolen it from someone they knew.
“They knew exactly where to go look for the ATV,” Hupp explained. “If you look at where they cut the fence, it was right where they needed to get it to steal that. And they knew exactly where to come to take the brand-new equipment, and the candy and chips, and stuff like that.”
“Whoever did it,” Small said as she watched her son play, “you should be ashamed of yourself, to take away from these kids, trying to do something positive in their lives.”
Hupp said the league runs on a shoestring budget. If often waives registration fees for players who cannot afford to pay, so finding the money to replace the ATV and the catcher’s gear will be a struggle. But he remained optimistic while watching players and their families walk through the concourse Saturday afternoon.
“This kind of stuff is never going to stop us from playing baseball and doing what we do here at RBI,” he stated. “It’s unfortunate, and it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s going to be no detriment at all to us being out here and being able to have kids playing baseball this summer.”