Before a Franklin man helped more than 50 parents clean up a local indoor baseball facility, he seized the moment and used it as an opportunity to teach his son about doing the right thing.
Kye Baker was one of many parents who had to explain what happened at Powerhouse Baseball to their children and answer the difficult question each of them asked: Why?
Explaining why anyone would trespass, steal money from and destroy the indoor baseball facility was not an easy task, Baker said.
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“I was extremely upset. Look what you’ve taken from these kids. These kids felt like it was an attack on them. It’s hard to tell these kids that it’s a cruel world,” Baker said. “An 11-year-old can’t comprehend why someone would do this.”
Late Sunday night or early Monday morning a thief or thieves broke into Powerhouse Baseball, located at 2112 Early Lane near King Street and Interstate 65. The thief or thieves stole a laptop computer, a file of business receipts, more than $1,000 in cash and checks and a radar gun.
Owner Chad Fowler discovered the vandalism Monday afternoon. As he walked in and started turning on lights, he noticed a net that had been cut. Then he saw the extent of the damage.
The pitching machines were flipped over, baseballs were thrown at equipment, all nets were cut. Every TV and laptop screen and video cameras used to record training were broken. The refrigerator was tipped over, Fowler said.
Every item in his business had been flipped over, punctured, had a baseball thrown through it or cut. Trophies earned by children he has helped coach and his own family for the past 13 years were damaged.
He estimated the damage at $10,000 to $15,000.
“They were in there for a long time,” Fowler said.
An emergency light was ripped off the wall and baseball bats were swung at the wall, causing damage, according to the report. Police also found a beam that was shoved into a panel of unfinished drywall and a door that was pried open.
Insurance agents were at Powerhouse this week assessing the damage to the building and equipment inside of it.
The Franklin Police Department is investigating. Anyone with information is asked to call police.
Fowler opened Powerhouse Baseball three years ago as a side business. He works full-time as a behavior assistant at an area school. Powerhouse organizes and trains two youth travel baseball teams, trains other youth, works with Franklin College and is open to the public. About 300 youth train at Powerhouse each month, he said.
The thieves took cash that had been collected in a fundraiser to help offset the cost to families, Fowler said.
“I’m much more of a baseball person than a business guy,” Fowler said. “We’re a blue collar community for the most part and we want to make sure that everyone who wants to play baseball can.”
During the clean up earlier this week, parents were replacing lights, repairing the nets to the batting cages that had been slashed and sweeping the debris from the floors, said Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness, whose son plays on one of the travel teams.
When the kids who play baseball at Powerhouse first heard the news, they were confused, upset and many of them angry, McGuinness said.
But after a day of coming together and cleaning up and doing whatever repairs and restoration could be done, everyone at Powerhouse is ready to move on, McGuinness said.
Fowler is making a priority list of which equipment to replace first, and nets have been sewn to make them usable for now.
“We’re glad to have a community behind us, and that’s not just Franklin,” Fowler said. “That’s Johnson County and Shelbyville.”
“We’ll go forward. It might be slow at first, but we’ll go forward.”
And the kids who use Powerhouse to train regularly during the week are now using the incident as some added motivation for this weekend’s games, Baker said.
“I think the kids will play with a chip on their shoulder this weekend,” McGuinness said. “At first they were shocked, but you could see it when they were cleaning up on Tuesday, these kids have a lot of pride. I would expect a little more anger when they’re swinging the bat this weekend.”