By Tim Eberly
Vandalism to the Havre Youth Baseball bus has forced 14 local players to carpool to a baseball camp in Idaho on Dec. 26.
While driving by the Legion Baseball Park last Wednesday, a local baseball supporter noticed something awry with the 15-passenger bus used by the Havre North Stars and the Havre Comets American Legion teams for 16- to 18-year-olds.
The man went to Master Sports to notify Bob Evans, the Comets' head coach and a manager at Master Sports.
"He stopped by the store here to let me know," Evans, 64, said. "He said, I think you have a window out.'"
The total damage by rock-tossing vandals included three broken windows, one cracked window and a broken taillight. The van, which was parked inside a fenced lot, sustained damage worth at least $2,000, Evans said.
"We found the rocks inside the bus," said Evans, who's in his third year coaching the Comets.
Havre police officers took photos of the bus, and interviewed Evans for possible leads. So far, no witnesses of the incident, which Evans believes happened two weekends ago, have been located.
"It's kind of tough," Evans said. The police are "just going to keep their eyes and ears open and hope somebody pops off about it."
The Havre Youth Baseball Association will have to pay a $500 deductible. Its automobile insurance will cover the rest.
"We can't travel with no windows," Evans said. "It's just one of the expenses we didn't want really bad."
The day after Christmas, players from the North Stars, Comets and Babe Ruth teams are planning to attend a four-day camp in Twin Falls, Idaho. Because replacement windows must be special-ordered from Holden's Hot Wheels, the bus will not be ready for the commute.
"We'll have to find some rides," Evans said. "I'll take my rig but we'll have to find some other drivers. That'll be my project for the start of the week, to find some new drivers."
Tyler Thompson, a right-handed pitcher for the Comets last season, is one of the players scheduled to attend the post-Christmas camp.
"I just think it's terrible," said Thompson, a 17-year-old junior at Havre High School. "I think it's horrible that people had to vandalize our bus for no reason. That bus was always a great means of transportation."
In order to gain access to the field, the assailants had to climb a 6-foot fence. Other than the bus, which was parked near an equipment shed in the left field corner, nothing else was damaged.
"We usually park the bus there year-round in the wintertime and summer," Evans said. "Nobody's up at the baseball field this time of year."
The HYBA holds fund-raisers year-round, and some of that money will be used to pay for the vehicle. Currently, a handful of parents associated with the HYBA are doing a coupon trade-in fund-raiser at Gary & Leo's IGA.
Several years ago, an unknown individual or group of individuals broke into the park and broke the sprinkler heads off the watering system. But the damage was not nearly as high as the cost to patch up the vehicle, prompting Evans to refer to the vandals as "baseball terrorists."
"That's what terrorists do," Evans said. "They destroy things for the sake of destroying them. Evidently, they must hate baseball to do something like this."