A few months ago Lynn’s oldest little league was hit with a curveball, until they raised enough cash. Then they were vandalized, and are fighting to keep themselves in the game.
Dan Johansson, the East Lynn Little League president of only a few weeks, is devastated after an overnight break-in that occurred during the first week of registration at the end of January. Vandals broke the clubhouse door off its hinge, smashed multiple windows, and stole a lot of recently purchased equipment.
“There were four to six smashed windows, the door was knocked right in, the glass signs that have the schedules and scores were smashed, and they definitely took some equipment, including two or three buckets of baseballs,” said Johansson. “This was my second week as president, so I wasn’t thinking I was going to have to deal with a break-in. I was totally shocked.”
Police responded to the Volunteer Field clubhouse at 3:26 p.m. on Jan. 27, according to Lynn Police Lieutenant Michael Kmiec. Aside from the damage and equipment theft, the suspect(s) may have tried to pry open the cash register but were unable to get it open, said Kmiec. No arrests have been made.
“There is no way in the world we will allow this to get in the way,” said Johansson. “We will not be defeated by something like this. We will make it work.”
The league started a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise back what was damaged or taken, since they are unsure what insurance will cover, according to Ashley Spina, a board member, softball coach, and parent. The door alone cost $250 to fix.
Last year, the league, a nonprofit that raises its own money with the help of sponsors, donors, and family participation, brought in enough profit to purchase all new equipment, said Spina. Almost everything the league invested in last year was destroyed and stolen during the break-in, she said.
“I was infuriated and extremely upset when I found out,” said Spina. “The small softball shed next to the clubhouse was also vandalized and all our bats were stolen. That’s what really made me frustrated. Who could do this to the kids?”
Spina said the league was close to splitting up and sending the kids to other leagues, given the worries over funds and not having a president. Johansson stepped up to the position and the league’s board members were feeling good. The break-in set the league 10 feet back, said Spina.
“I know a lot of people in Lynn were happy to see we were still a league and we didn’t fold,” said Spina. “Almost everybody in this area has been involved with East Lynn at some point in their lives. We are almost 60 years in.”
As of right now, opening day is set to happen on April 27, according to Johansson. The league is asking for donors, sponsors, and volunteers to jump on board and help out. Registration is still ongoing, live online everyday and, it is hoped, an in person registration, from 6 to 7 p.m., at the clubhouse on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
“We are definitely going to come back from this,” said Equipment Manager Mike Fusco. “With the new board we have in place, they’ve got some good ideas and hopefully we’ll keep the league running for another 60 years.”