Home » Culture » Pinal Little League springs back after Fire

Pinal Little League springs back after Fire

The fire in March tore through the club house destroying everything, leaving only the charred remains of what was to be the makings of a new Spring Season for the Pinal Little League. Rows of new bats, gloves, cleats and catchers masks stored in the club house awaiting the start of the season were all destroyed in the blaze.

At first it was deemed an electrical failure in one of the juncture boxes, but then a chance arrest of a Payson man on unrelated charges revealed a different story. He bragged about breaking into the bunker and using marker paint to write graffiti on the wall and a heat torch which ignited the nylon bat bags. When the fire got out of control  he and his friend crawled out the top and sat off to the side watching it burn.

Wes Sukosky has been the League president for the last five years and when he got the call on Friday night, he says he first thought it was the concession stand. The stand which generates about $10,000 for the league each year would have been bad enough, but when he arrived and saw it was the club house with all the newly donated and hard earned collection of equipment he said it was devastating. So he did what most of us do. He put his loss on Facebook. Really, he says he just wanted to share the news. He didn’t have a plan. But what came next was astonishing.

Friends, family and parents of kids shared the news on their Facebook pages and several contacted Channel 5 KPHO in the Valley to see if they would come down and cover the story. 

“I got this call from them and they said they wanted to do a story that day.”  Sukosky pauses and continues, “…and I had to think about it a minute. I mean, it was my eighteenth wedding anniversary and my wife and I had plans.  But I told her I thought it would really help, and – you know – we’ve been married 18 years – so she understands.”

 That ‘short’ interview turned into almost six hours because of traffic delays on Hwy 60, but Wes still got to celebrate his anniversary – albeit a bit later than planned, and the story ran on Channel 5 that night.

Board member, Darryl Dalley and League President Wes Sukosky both grew up on these fields and regularly put in over 20 hours a week to ensure things run smoothly. Photo by LCGross


Almost immediately, there was a call from the Arizona Diamondbacks who heard about the fire and wanted to donate five thousand dollars. That was followed shortly afterwards by Freeport McMoran who also donated five thousand and BHP who donated six thousand. Little League teams in the Valley have also offered support in the way of equipment and donations. Walmart has stepped up with a thousand dollars worth of bats and the offer to provide enough forest green and beige paint to repaint the buildings on the field. Local contractors and businesses including Rodgriguez Roofing, Pinal Lumber and Ace Hardware have all stepped up to help with supplies and labor and volunteers show up to ask what needs to be done.

The phones have barely stopped ringing.

The outpouring by those outside the community might be attributed more to the spirit of the game. They may not know our kids, but they know what Little League is for all kids. What it is for the game of baseball. The outpouring in the community comes because everyone here either has a kid in the league, has played on those fields themselves, or knows a family, a kid or a friend who plays there. They are supporting a community institution which has been around since the 40s when the Globe-Miami Browns used to play on the field and it was known as O’Brien field.

Sukosky stands in the dirt parking lot talking about his own history on this field.

“I used to play here when there were goat heads (stickers) everywhere.” Pointing to the beautiful green fields before us, he goes on to say, “There was no grass and no trees when I played,” he says. “And the tailings (which rise above the ball fields across the highway) were blue. When the wind would blow we’d get that sulphur smell in the air and they’d have to cancel the games.”  He smiles at the memory.

These days he likes taking his family to the ASU and Diamondbacks games in the Valley, but his real passion seems to be watching the next generation of home-town kids grow up on these fields. His own sons have all played here. One is still in the league.   

Players hit the field. Photo by LCGross

Sukosky has been on the League Board since 2001 and says they have steadily been improving the grounds for the last ten years with the help of a substantial investment from BHP who in 2004 committed $20K a year for five years which helped rebuild the fields from the ground up, put in an irrigation system, install a new fence around the main park closest to highway, build the new concession stand and install a new scoreboard. Additional investments each year by Freeport McMoran and the County have been critical in the improvements Wes and his Board members have been able to make to the fields and the park as a whole.

He had plans to replace the fence on the back field which is over fifty years old with this years’ funds; but then the fire happened and he had to revise his priorities. Rebuilding the clubhouse and replacing all the lost equipment will have to come first. Yet he is hopeful.

In a game known for miraculous plays and where beating the odds and scoring the impossible are all part of the culture that has kept us enthralled with baseball since it began in 1845, the Pinal Little League might just have it’s own miracle in the works this Spring arising straight out of the ashes.

They might just get a new club house…and a fence.

About globemiami

This content comes to you through GMTimes staff and/or contributed content through press releases, submitted articles and non-profit organizations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *