WORCESTER – Neighbors of Ames St. in Worcester are getting fed up with the constant barrage of baseballs coming from Vernon Hill field hitting their homes and vehicles, and bringing players and spectators into their yards to retrieve foul balls.
But they’re getting even more frustrated with the lack of a response from the City.
According to Samuel Delgado, property owner at 50 Ames St., he has to deal with the parents and visitors at the park going on his property to get balls hit into his yard.
“[They think they have] the ‘free will’ to go in my property to pick up the ball without permission. Though it’s their ‘property,’ they feel entitled to enter my property. When I go to the park to find out who will take care of the damage, they always say it is not their responsibility, and that I should go to the City. Then [the city says] that it’s not their responsibility either. So whose responsibility is it?,” Delgado said in an email to ThisWeekinWorcester.com [TWIW] on Friday, May 11.
On Saturday, May 5, Delgado’s Honda Civic was parked in his driveway when its back windshield was struck by a baseball [See Photo]. TWIW obtained a copy of the bill from AAA Auto Glass, Inc. with amounted to nearly $300 in damage.
“Me and my family have found countless of balls in my yard in the past. Will it become your responsibility when one of those fouls end up hurting a citizen in their property? It really isn’t fair that we have to deal with that,” Delgado said.
Delgado’s unfortunate incident is not an isolated one by any means. Multiple issues were brought to TWIW’s attention from residents from 40 Ames to 54 Ames St.
According to one neighbor, his 90-year-old mother was in the bathroom when a foul ball went through his bathroom window. A second house has three broken windows from baseballs, another has two broken windows.
The crux of the issue began in 2010 when the City reconstructed and made improvements to the field. The backstop behind home plate was moved towards Ames St. The original backstop was located in what is now left field.
According to a neighbor that wished to remain anonymous, “After the completion [of the new field], balls began flying into all of our yards. People were — and still are — running into and of out yards multiple times every game. We called the City complaining many times. The response repeatedly from the secretary at the City Manager’s office has been ‘You bought the house by a baseball field’, and the conversation basically was your problem. My response has always been, ‘I did not by this house with the baseball field where it is. In fact, my grandparents bought this house and the field was not even there.’”
When reached for comment, the City Manager’s office directed TWIW to Robert Antonelli, Jr. — the assistant commissioner of the City’s Department of Public Works & Parks [DPW] — who didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
A representative from East Side Babe Ruth – which plays its games at Vernon Hill field – told TWIW that the league offered its help to the City to rectify the situation before it became contentious and was willing to help in any way.
In an email chain obtained by TWIW, the response from Antonelli was for the league “…to monitor and report to Parks if an issue arises in the future” and nothing more.
According to District 3 City Councilor George Russell, this issue has been one he’s been trying to fix since he was elected into office in 2011.
“During my first term in 2012 I attempted to get the administration to address by returning [the] field to its previous layout where home plate was where the outfield is now. That’s the way it used to be before it was redesigned and rebuilt,” Russell said in an email on May 10.
“In an effort to stop the foul balls from intruding on Ames St, the DPW and Parks put netting up that is at least 30 or 40 feet high. Since then I only began to hear complaints renewed last year and have asked DPW &P to address,” Russell said.
Russell and City Councilor At-Large Gary Rosen have placed an order on Tuesday night’s City Council agenda to address this very issue.
“As soon as I heard about this just two days ago, I went to work on it,” Rosen said in an email. “It is a situation that must be solved ASAP before any more damage is done to the property of Ames St. residents.”
Rosen, the chair of the council’s youth, parks and recreation committee said he will schedule a meeting as soon as he can and invite the Ames St. residents and other neighbors and East Side Babe Ruth officials to determine what steps need to be taken to prevent the aforementioned damage while allowing games to continue at Vernon Hill field.
Until then, the residents of Ames St. will have to keep their eyes on the sky.