BOE: You’re out!
District bans summer leagues from baseball field after it suffers serious damage
POINT PLEASANT — It is only July and some of the best baseball of the summer has yet to be played — it just won’t be played at Point Pleasant Borough High School.
All summer league teams — which include staple teams in Point Pleasant like the Point Merchants, Point Pirates and Point Pleasant Panthers of the American Legion — have been banned from the field for the rest of the summer.
Both the Pirates and the Panthers will be playing the rest of the season on the road. The Merchants are looking into available fields in Toms River.
Point Pleasant Superintendent of Schools Vincent S. Smith said in a statement that in accordance with board policy, the Point Pleasant Borough Board of Education permits the use of school facilities by non-school-related organizations, whose use has been approved by the board, with the stipulation that the organization preserves the integrity of the facilities.
According to the statement, the policy clearly states any damage done to the facilities during the course of use by outside organizations will result in the immediate termination of the privilege of continued use of school facilities.
“Organizations entering into agreements with the district for the use of our school facilities do so with the understanding that the condition of the requested facility must be suitable for use, as determined by the district,” the superintendent’s statement read.
According to Smith, the problem occurred last week when one team in particular attempted to play a game in unsuitable conditions, causing serious damage to the field.
“Last week, as you know, our area experienced heavy rainfall over an extended period of days, which caused some minor flooding to the district’s Varsity Baseball Field, making it unsuitable for use, by the district’s standards,” Smith’s statement read. “Despite the field’s condition however, one of the outside organizations proceeded with a scheduled game, and while attempting to make the field playable, exacerbated its condition, causing considerable damage.
“As a result of the damage, the board of education has closed the field for the remainder of the summer, while they obtain proposals to restore it to a playable condition in time for the mid-August start of our district’s fall athletic season,” Smith’s statement read.
According to the school district, the policy states that the cost of damage to facilities will be charged to the offender.
The last teams on the field were the Point Merchants playing against the Toms River Tigers last Thursday. The Merchants lost to the Tigers 7-3.
No other teams used the field at the time of the reported damage.
According to meteorologist Tom Kines of AccuWeather, a weather forecasting service, rain occurred from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Point Pleasant last Thursday morning.
Heavy rain went on to occur on Friday. The total both days was between one-tenth and one-quarter of one inch, with most occurring on Friday.
Though the school district declined naming the team it believes had caused the damage, Merchants manager Art Rooney confirmed after the game he was called into Point Pleasant Borough High School on Monday to discus the conditions of the field.
The coach said he was told all summer league teams will be banned from using the field until further notice, including his Merchants.
“They want to lay it all on me,” Rooney said, about the meeting. “They said it is all my fault, but they are not telling the whole truth. I have been coaching the Merchants for over 30 years and never charged for any of my players to play on my team or use the field. I educated kids on that field, which is an act of a community service.”
Rooney said most of the damage to the field was not caused by the Merchants but another team in the Jersey Shore Baseball League, who he declined to name. He went on to blame other team’s actions, which included sweeping dirt into the stands.
Rooney further said over the years he has put countless hours into maintaining the field to make it playable after rainfall.
“It wasn’t only me that played on that field and you will never find any man more loyal to Point Pleasant than me, supporting teams at games,” he said. “The administration just doesn’t get it. I was a scapegoat and they made me the bad guy. Why did they even allow that field to get in that kind of condition over the past few years?”
The school district declined commenting on Rooney’s statement.
Anthony Del Priore is the manager of the Point Pirates baseball team, which also competes in the Jersey Shore Baseball League.
Del Priore said he was disappointed in finding out his team could not use the field for the rest of the year, but respected the school’s decision.
“As manager for the Point Pirates for the past three years, we have had the privilege of playing our home games at the Point Pleasant Borough High School vastity field,” Del Priore said. “Over those years, we have cancelled many games due to rain, rather then jeopardizing the integrity of the field.
“We have cancelled six games this year alone at the borough, including last Tuesday, July 9, and Wednesday July 10,” he continued. “Unfortunately other teams feel entitled to use the field and in doing so, have ruined the privileges for everyone.
“We are very disappointed that our remaining games at the borough have been cancelled, but we stand 100 percent behind the board of education’s decision, to shut down the varsity field due to safety concerns for the remainder of the season,” he said. “We will reschedule our remaining games at different venues.”
Point Pleasant Business Administrator Steve Corso did not return multiple calls seeking comment.