ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - With spring around the corner, the hearts and minds of children young and old turn to baseball season. But for leagues around the shore, it could be difficult to start the season with some fields and equipment damaged from the superstorm that hit the area last October.
The Sandy Hook Little League plays at Fireman's Field in Atlantic Highlands. When the adjoining Many Mind Creek overflowed its banks and flooded the field, concession stand and equipment storage area with more than two feet of water, league president Tom Caizza, Sr. said there was considerable damage to league equipment, including kitchen appliances and material for the "snack shack". He estimates the cost of damage at nearly $75,000.
While speaking recently with the governor's office about the damage to the municipal marina, Mayor Fred Rast III, mentioned the damage to the field used by Sandy Hook Little League. As it happens, a member of the Baltimore Orioles franchise had also contacted the governor's office to offer assistance to local clubs that had been affected by Superstorm Sandy.
Trent Howard, 23-year-old left hander with the Baltimore Orioles' Frederick Keys farm team, saw the devastation and wanted to do something. He contacted the governor's Sandy Recovery Task Force to offer assistance.
Howard, a native of Indiana, made a personal financial contribution and intends to speak with his teammates and management about making a donation when he starts spring training March 2nd. "Hopefully, the thing can get really big," Howard said. Howard has also been in touch with the New Balance Foundation about a donation.
"(The ball field) is where it all starts, Howard said. "Get the parents involved and get the kids out here. I don't want to see the kids have to sit out after all that happened."
Photo: Fireman's Field in Atlantic Highlands.
Trent Howard signed autographs and took photos with his young fans at the baseball field this afternoon. He said that he wants the folks in his native Indiana to see photos of the devastation so they might better understand the needs at the shore too.
Mayor Rast said, "It's great that they're doing this. They are role models."