Home Run Balls Terrorize the Neighbors

Courtney Cameron Headshot

The youth league baseball fields owned by the Holy Spirit Church in Fremont, Calif., have been reported to the city for endangering the neighbors with escaped baseballs. The smaller of the two fields, located at the edge of church property, directly faces a line of private back yards, where home run baseballs frequently land.

According to one neighbor, Amarnath Ramakrishna, in August of 2016 a ball came over his fence, narrowly missing his young daughter. Ramakrishna has also been the recipient of two broken bedroom windows in the last two years as a result of escaped baseballs.

Ramakrishna told East Bay Times that he has tried to alert the Fremont Cal Ripken youth league to the problem, but no changes have been made. A group from the neighboring community requested that the league hire the professional installation of an over-the-fence net to protect their homes.

Unable to cover the expense, the league offered to perform the installation themselves. However, neighbors complained that the netting wouldn’t be high enough to make a difference, so the league never followed through.

Finally, Ramakrishna filed a complaint with the city about the “clear and present danger” posed by the fields. Upon inspection, the Fremont code enforcement division found the fields to be in violation of city ordinances and operating without the proper permits.

The city issued a notice to the league in February of 2017, halting play on the fields, but league officials quickly petitioned to be allowed to finish the current season, and were granted the continued use of the fields through the end of June.

In a letter to community development director Jeff Schwob delivered in March, the league claimed that the balls consistently flying over the fence were the result of the fields being used by unauthorized players, likely over the eight-year age limit imposed by the league.

Unable to keep a continual watch over the fields, the league has posted signs expressly forbidding the use of the field by anyone older than eight years of age. They have also agreed to keep the fences locked and install a criss-crossing metal wire over the diamond.

Schwob has ordered a compromise between the community and the league, allowing the league to finish out the season on their fields, after which it will be required to complete a permitting process with city officials. 

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