Work to be proud of

Brocton-Portland Little League Board President Julie Putcher couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

Last fall, the Brocton-Portland Little League field was vandalized by what was thought to be a group of teenagers. It wasn’t so much the fact that the field had been vandalized; what shocked Putcher most was the maliciousness of the vandalism.

“I couldn’t believe the level of damage and the viciousness of the damage,” Putcher said. “There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it. When I first heard the doors had been kicked in and the police had been called, I didn’t expect it to be that bad. It literally was knee high in debris.”

Everything in the concession stand was destroyed including anything that could be used for this season, right down to paper plates and straws.

Cleaning supplies were sprayed everywhere, causing metal sinks to corrode. The doors were ripped off the refrigerators and freezers, which were then urinated in. Feces was strewn throughout the dugouts and lit on fire in an attempt to burn down the benches, and possibly the dugouts themselves.

Candy was scattered around the field and the cash box was smashed into tiny pieces with baseball bats. Expensive game balls were taken from the concession stand and hit or thrown into the creek.

In total, approximately $2,000 worth of damage was done, hundreds of man hours were required to undo the damage and an entire dumpster was needed to remove the debris.

But from that damage, came a positive. The community and board came together to rebuild and renovate the field into something better than they began with.

“We have a very active Little League board,” Putcher said. “The guys and ladies really stepped up on cleanup days repairing the dugouts. And my new vice president, I didn’t know it at the time, but she is an artist. So I told her that I wanted to put murals there. I wanted it to be a place that wouldn’t be as easy to destroy. When things are looking nice and well taken care of, it is harder to destroy.”

Alison Parker, who has been painting for approximately 10 years, spent two and a half months working on the murals. She spent anywhere from two to six hours a day working on the paintings when the weather permitted. The result is something that the entire community can be proud of.

“Honestly, I just wanted to spruce it up for the kids,” Parker said of her motivation to do the paintings. “I was actually left to my own (for ideas) to do the work. I do paintings for craft shows and the president had asked me if I had ever considered painting murals. I said I wanted to do it and she told me to have at it.”

“She went in and started painting everything and it surpassed what I had expected,” Putcher said. “She did a fantastic job down there.”

The field is now once again up and running and is home to one of the most active Little League programs in the area.

“Our Little League is a huge part of the community,” Putcher said. “From the age of 4-12, we have 11 teams with each averaging 12 kids per team. By and far the majority of kids in this community are involved in Little League. We have over 130 kids participating. That is a huge number for us. It is just a great place for the kids to learn sportsmanship and camaraderie with the kids and families that connect over the baseball and softball games there.”

Brocton-Portland Little League is an inter-league program that competes with the Westfield and Mayville Little Leagues. With the field looking better than ever, and multiple leagues using the field, it is now something that the entire area can enjoy for many years to come.