OTSEGO, Minn. -- Some Otsego Little League baseball players are learning a tough lesson about loss. A thief recently stole nearly $2,000 worth of equipment from the program.
"The kids were very upset because for somebody to steal from our program, especially from kids," said Randy Welch, president of Otsego Little League.
The league's batting cages are located at the VFW Fields in Otsego. Locked to the cages was a storage box (also locked) holding a pitching machine, balls and other batting equipment. Welch estimates it held about $1,800 worth of equipment. That box had been there for at least four months.
On Oct. 13, the storage box and its equipment were stolen. Welch said a witness, who frequently drives by the VFW Fields, saw the box sitting on the curb around 4 p.m. that day. It was gone when Welch arrived at 5:30.
"It's always hard to come up with money when you're trying to start a program so for us to have to go backwards, even a few hundred dollars is a lot," Welch said.
Welch founded Otsego Little League in 2012. It now has more than a hundred players between the ages of 5-14.
It's a setback for the relatively new program that is trying to raise money for its own baseball fields.
"We have to rent fields from the city to practice on and to play on. So that's kind of a struggle for us a little bit," Welch said.
In the spring, Otsego Little League will start construction on three Little League fields and a concession stand on the VFW's property. The total project will cost about $450,000. Welch said they still need about $300,000.
"That's our beginning. It's been a long road because it's hard to find funding and people who are willing to give to youth and to develop," Welch said.
The Wright County Sheriff's Department is investigating the theft.
Welch said the pitching machine was briefly listed for sale on Craigslist before the ad was pulled. If you have any information or notice any equipment being sold online that could belong to Otsego Little League, you should contact the Wright County Sheriff's Department.