“I'm Disgusted:” Thief Steals $7K From Hayward Little League

It’s one thing to steal bases in baseball.

It’s another to steal a safe containing $7,000.

But that’s what happened to the Tennyson American Little League in Hayward over the weekend.

Treasurer Jody Perry said the youth baseball clubhouse – an icon in town because of its brightly painted murals - was broken into on Sunday about 9:45 p.m. and a safe was taken containing the league’s rent money.

“I’m disgusted to say that neither us, nor the police think it is a coincidence that it was the weekend we collected our fundraiser,” Perry said on Wednesday. “Stealing that money is like directly stealing from the 200 kids our league serves each year.”

Perry said the alarm went off, and the company called League President Christina Mathewson, who typically receives two or three false alarm calls a week. But Mathewson’s husband told his wife, “I have a bad feeling about this one,” Perry recalled and the couple went to the clubhouse about 11 p.m. to confirm his fears. After the weekend fundraiser, the plan was to deposit the money in the bank on Monday. If there is any silver lining, Perry said, several of the team's in the league hadn't brought over their weekend fundraising money to the clubhouse.

About half the league’s fundraising money was in the safe – the only thing taken – and the thief or thieves pried open the snack bar window of the clubhouse to get in.

Bay Area artist Andrew Kong Knight  put the Sorensdale Park clubhouse on the map in March, with three 15-by 30-foot murals inspired by the classic baseball movie, “Field of Dreams.” Knight told NBC Bay Area when he gives his "heart and soul" to the murals and spends so much time at the park, he takes the theft "personally."

Josh Powell and Wythe Boward painted the clubhouse with popcorn and hot dogs where the safe was being kept.

Neighbor Carolyn Hancock was dismayed on Wednesday and is hopeful the culprits will be caught.

“It sounds like a planned job,” she said. “It’s a pitiful situation that someone would steal from kids like that.”

Insurance will cover most of the loss, but the league will have to pay a $1,000 deductible. The league is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever took the money.

Donations may be sent to the Tennyson American Little League, Box 3355, Hayward, 94544. Online donations can be made here. Anyone with information is asked to call Hayward police at 510-293-7000.

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