The season hasn’t even begun - and already Shadle Park High School’s ninthgrade baseball team is coping with a foul.
Last week, someone slipped into the boys locker room and walked off with 26 gym bags filled with the boys’ personal equipment, including gloves and cleats.
Ron Brooks, Shadle Park’s varsity baseball coach, never had seen anything like it - a whole team losing its equipment at one time.
“The bags were just taken,” Brooks said. “They weren’t even looked through.”
The boys found the empty locker room themselves Thursday. Downhearted, they hit the field empty-handed.
By Friday, they were wearing old mitts and borrowed cleats. The lefties even were taking turns using a single glove. By Tuesday, they were hollering as if they were headed for the World Series.
“When we overcome this, then playing a game will be nothing,” Brooks encouraged the boys.
With a Saturday jamboree planned, the boys, their parents and Brooks are scrambling to find the stolen equipment.
For the last week, Brooks has been filling in for the ninth grade team’s coach, who suffered a death in his family.
“It’s not so much how much the equipment is worth,” Brooks said. “It’s more how the boys got their equipment by saving up to buy it or as a special present.”
Brooks and the other coaches have spent off-hours scouring Spokane’s pawn shops and warning secondhand sports shops to be on the lookout. Brooks has even climbed in a couple of Dumpsters looking for the stuff.
Detailed lists of the lost possessions have been faxed to all area schools, but District 81 security and Spokane Police still haven’t turned up anything.
The Shadle Park booster club will hold a hot dog sale at Saturday’s varsity game to benefit the ninth grade boys. Brooks said he’d welcome any donations of equipment.
“This was devastating because it was everyone’s gear,” said Kathy Chieffo, whose twin sons are on the team. “But those kids will have equipment one way or another. They’ll play their game Saturday and the parents will cheer.”