Thieves steal nearly 200 bats from urban children's baseball league

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One of the empty fields where League 42 teams play baseball at McAdams Park in Wichita.  Here it sits on Sunday, February 3, 2019, waiting for spring practices to begin in March. One of the empty fields where League 42 teams play baseball at McAdams Park in Wichita. Here it sits on Sunday, February 3, 2019, waiting for spring practices to begin in March.
The storage building north of McAdams Park that thieves broke into, stealing as many as 200 baseball bats. The storage building north of McAdams Park that thieves broke into, stealing as many as 200 baseball bats.
The hole thieves cut into the fence surrounding the League 42 storage facility. The hole thieves cut into the fence surrounding the League 42 storage facility.
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

"Right now we're facing a little bit of an issue, but we'll overcome it.  That's what we do," said Bob Lutz, executive director of League 42.

The urban baseball league says it needs your help re-stocking equipment after a series of thefts this year.

With practices set to begin next month, replacing the lost bats is an immediate need.

"We're not sure what's going on," Lutz said.  "We've had tremendous success storing our equipment here at McAdams.  It's been a very safe place."

Until now.  As League 42's organizers are preparing for their 6th season, they're facing a new problem: equipment theft.

"We've had some stereo speakers, sound system speakers, taken. and most recently in the neighborhood of 175 to 200 baseball bats," Lutz said.

They're not sure when the thefts happened, just when they discovered them.

"We're not out here on a daily basis, so when we do come out we do an inventory," Lutz explained.  "And we found some doors that were open that shouldn't have been."

He's talking about a building along 17th St, north of McAdams Park, the league has leased out.  

They just put up a chain link fence to better protect the equipment after earlier thefts of sound equipment.  But the thieves cut right through it.

"Storage has always been an issue," said Lutz about finding places to store all the league's equipment.  "We have a lot of stuff because we don't expect our kids to go out and buy their own bats and gloves.  We provide equipment, uniforms and we only charge $30."

Lutz put the call for help out on Facebook over the weekend, with quick responses from the community.

"There are many more good people than bad," said Lutz.  "That's something we always have to remember."

But say it's going to take a lot of donations to replace all those bats.  The league serves some 600 boys and girls, from five to 14-years-old.  They need 26 to 33 inch bats, new or high quality used, aluminum.

"It's been a setback.  But, I can tell you this, we're not going to be deterred.  We're going to continue to stay strong and League 42 will survive this," he said.