Vandals cut club's future
A random act of vandalism has delivered a devastating blow for a baseball team that has worked tirelessly to establish itself in a local park.
Nylon field netting that provides crucial protection for spectators has been slashed causing the All Star Games that were to be held at Mt Roskill's Fearon Park last Saturday to be urgently relocated.
Central City Baseball president Cathy Trudeau was alerted to the damage by a council member who visited the park and saw the gaping hole left by vandals.
"Because there is no security at the park we don't know when it was done, and we have no idea why it was done," she says.
Team coach Tim Olliff says the section of netting, which measures approximately four metres long by two metres high, might have been cut for fishing.
"If somebody wants a piece of net then it's an easy option," he says. "But the massive void in the panel means that any balls hit in play will come through."
The net not only protects spectators, but also a walkway and a playground that is in close proximity.
For the modest club it is a saddening turn of events after years of perseverance to create suitable grounds for the team.
Ms Trudeau says it took the club half a decade to get a field. A professional-style diamond pitch and backstop netting was installed only last year thanks to financial support from the baseball community.
"Being a smaller club we don't have the funds to buy new nets, so we are at the mercy of people not to cut them down," she says.
"I think vandals don't realise the consequences of what they do, we are a youth club so it's the kids that miss out."
The damage to the nets means the All Star Games that were to bring six clubs from around Auckland to Fearon Park last weekend had to be shifted at the last minute to Bayside Westhaven Baseball Club - where permanent wire fences are in place.
"I was up until almost midnight trying to reschedule the games, which we were really looking forward to hosting here because we want to have more visibility," Ms Trudeau says. "Things like this really cut us at the knees."
It is hoped the nets can be fixed before the baseball season begins in January.
However, the netting will cost several hundred dollars - and could be subject to repeated plundering.
"Ultimately the best solution will be getting a wire mesh net, which would cost somewhere in the vicinity of $10,000," Mr Olliff says.
Ms Trudeau says she will be appealing to the Puketapapa Local Board for some financial support.