EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 25, 2009

Play Ball! After theft, Little League overwhelmed by support

Mo Vaughn among those who donated

LAWRENCE — After hearing about the $1,500 worth of baseball gear that got stolen from the South Lawrence East Little League, a Louisiana man made league president George Herman an offer he couldn't refuse.

"This gentleman called me around noon, saying he would send $300 because he really loves baseball and wanted to help us out," Herman said last night, as teams practiced for opening day activities set for this morning.

"He told me 'All I want is a baseball signed by some kids so I can put it on my mantle'," said the league president, smiling as he recalled the story.

"And that was before Mo Vaughn contacted us," Herman continued, referring to the former Boston Red Sox slugger who is among those contributing close to $11,000 in donations as of last night.

The Louisiana baseball fan was just one of dozens of people - from the Merrimack Valley to the West Coast - who stepped up to the plate yesterday - one day after reading about how the theft of baseball gear jeopardized the start of the baseball season for 300 kids - many from meager means who depend on financial assistance to play America's favorite pastime.

"It's just unfortunate," said Vaughn, whose New York company recently purchased the Sycamore Village affordable housing complex on Lowell Street. "When you start messing with kids, it really starts to become a problem."

Vaughn, in an interview with The Eagle-Tribune, declined to say how much he contributed.

The South Lawrence East Little League celebrates opening day today with a ceremony and scrimmages at its field complex at South Lawrence East Elementary School.

Outgoing League President Greg Morris summed up the outpouring of generosity as one of the league's finest days.

"I fielded calls from Arkansas; Phoneix, Ariz.; Los Angeles; Atlanta, Ga.; and all over the place," said Morris, a Lawrence School Committee member.

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