Knox fields closed

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 19, 2002


An incident Thursday night at the Knox Street ballpark has caused the park to be closed for practices and games until further notice.

Dan Smith, director of parks and recreation for the city of Troy, said an altercation between two teens Thursday night gave the city no choice but to close the park. The incident was the second in the vicinity of the park in a week’s time.

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According to Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage, Troy Police responded to a reported assault call on Knox Street around 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, TPD public information officer, said the incident occurred when the suspect in this case approached the victim and started a verbal altercation which resulted in the alleged assault.

The 17-year-old victim is a Troy resident, but his name is not being release due to his age, Scarbrough said.

The suspect has been identified as Derick Grider, 18, of Troy.

"Grider was arrested at approximately 8:50 p.m Thursday on John Lewis Drive," Scarbrough said. "He was placed in the Troy City Jail and charged with assault third degree."

This incident was the second in a week in the Knox Street ballpark area.

Police were notified at 5:38 p.m. Tuesday that a shot had been fired on Knox Street in the vicinity of the lower ballfield in the recreation complex.

The incident is under investigation by the Troy Police Department. No arrests have been made.

The two incidents prompted the City of Troy to close the park until further notice.

Games that were scheduled for Saturday were moved to the Troy Sportsplex and a decision

will be made on Monday regarding the games scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25.

"We are shocked and saddened by the events that occurred at our facility this week which were totally unrelated to our activities scheduled on those fields," Smith said. "As can be expected, the public is very concerned and upset. We believe it is in the best interest of the the players and their families to temporarily relocate them until we can decide what our final plans will be.

"A lot of children practice and play at the Knox Street ballfields and the parents feel there is a volatile atmosphere there. We want to provide the most positive and safe environment for families that we can."

Two police officers were on duty at the park but were called away prior to the incident between a scorekeeper for the parks and recreation department and another teen, Smith said.

"The incident had nothing to do with baseball and league play at Knox Street," Smith said. "It apparently stemmed from a dispute at school. The young man, who is an employee of the Troy Parks and Recreation Department, was not a fault. He was doing his duties in a professional manner and was physically attacked. He was defenseless and suffered minor injuries. Parents broke up the the altercation. "

Knox Street ballpark is the historic facility in Troy for youth baseball and girls’ softball.

"Girls’ softball actually started on those fields," Smith said. "Not only did many of the employees of the city recreation department play there, so did many of our children. Many parents of the children who are playing on the Knox Street fields played and coached there. It is not the fault of the facility that these incidents occurred."

As to the safety of the children, coaches and parents have voiced their concerns about having the youngest leagues (Capp, Farm and Pre-Minor) played at the dual Knox and McGhee Field facility.

"I don’t know what’s going on, but from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard from other parents it’s been going on a long time," said Don Herring, who coaches the Pre-Minor league Indians and has a son on the team also. "It is an unsafe environment for my children and other people’s children. It’s not a good situation. I urge the city council and the mayor to look at this and do something about it."

Mike Fleming, who also coaches a Pre-Minor League team, said to his knowledge Knox and McGhee Fields are the only facilities in Troy to have had these type of incidents.

"I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a team’s safety with shooting going on over there," he said.

The Knox Street facility has been in use for 40 years and was once the home of all Troy’s youth recreation leagues. But Herring said that area of the city is not as safe as it was 40 years ago. He said police continuously patrol the streets around the two baseball fields. The children playing are usually more caught up in a police car’s sirens and flashing lights to even focus on the game.

"It’s a distraction, because naturally an eight-year old kid wants to look up and see what’s going on," said Herring.

Herring wonders why the Troy Sportsplex can’t become an official home for the city’s younger leagues. He knows the eight-field facility was built as a primary draw for softball tournaments, but feels it’s time for the city to "put its own citizens first."

"Mayor (Jimmy) Lunsford and the city council have done a wonderful job with the City of Troy and I believe we’re in good financial shape here," he said. "I don’t think the little money we bring in from softball should be above the safety of our children. Our taxpayers built the Sportsplex. Put us first, let us come first. But they’re saying the people from out of town come first and I don’t agree with that."

"Because with the track we’re going on now, you’re going to end up with a dead child."