Eric King, NBC 5 News
Copper thieves have ripped out the wires to the lights around the ball fields on Windy Ryon Way in Fort Worth near Saginaw. The Pioneer Youth Baseball and Softball Association says that means hundreds of kids can't play ball after dark.
Copper thieves have shut off the lights for nearly 2,000 youth baseball players in north Fort Worth halfway through their season.
Three of the Pioneer Youth Baseball and Softball Association's fields are without working lights, ending night practices for dozens of teams.
PYBSA organizers learned on Tuesday that their fields in the 6200 block of Windy Ryon Way in Fort Worth, near Saginaw, had been hit. Frayed and exposed wires could be seen on nearly half of the light poles at the fields.
"They broke the boxes off and tried to take the wire however they could get it," league volunteer Josh Riley said. "It's ridiculous. It's sad. Everything that's done out here is done by volunteers. I spend hours out here every week. Others spend just as much time. To do all of this, and for someone to mess it up, is ridiculous."
The upcoming spring season is dependent on the playing fields being lit, and the repairs will not be easy, said Chris McCoy, the league's vice president. PYBSA will need donated materials, equipment, resources and time from volunteers.
The league relies on internal fundraising efforts to repair, maintain and improve its facilities, he said. Membership dues pay for operating expenses, and volunteers full staff the league, including field maintenance and upkeep and coaching.
McCoy said theft has been an ongoing issue. Last year, its equipment shed was broken into and field maintenance equipment was stolen. Two years ago, copper thieves stole the wiring from the light poles on two of the fields and salvaged the copper from air-conditioning units.
In the most recent theft, the thieves left commercial salvage tools behind, indicating the vast complexity of their operation.
PYBSA, a nonprofit founded by volunteers in 1975, has 17 acres that include seven playing fields, McCoy said in a written statement. League membership is available to players from 3 to 14 years old.
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