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'I couldn't believe my eyes': Vandals paint Mr. Redlegs, damage facilities at Reds Youth Academy

Posted: 4:22 PM, May 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-02 00:49:38-04

CINCINNATI — As far as Mark Burns is concerned, he said Wednesday, the Reds Urban Youth Academy has been nothing but good to Cincinnati’s young inner city athletes — his own son included. He was disappointed to arrive at evening practice to discover someone had been less than good in return.

“When I first walked up and I saw it, I thought it was just horrible,” he said.

Parts of the facility and nearby Roselawn Park had been vandalized with green spraypaint overnight. A Mr. Redlegs bench meant to celebrate the team’s 150th anniversary took the worst of it, but the unknown vandal or vandals also tagged four outdoor baseball fields, a storage facility and onsite restrooms.

Cincinnati police have been notified, according to Reds public relations manager Michael Anderson. He confirmed there were security cameras on the premises, although he did not disclose whether they had recorded the vandalism in progress.

Burns, who visits twice a week to watch his son play baseball, said he believes the Urban Youth Academy deserves more respect. According to him, it’s always been a safe place for children in the surrounding community to play.

“It’s designed for kids to have something to do outside of school, you know, to keep them occupied,” he said. “Knowing that the Redlegs guy is just sitting there minding his own business and just to see him painted green — I thought it was pretty awful for someone to do such a thing.”

So did Barbara Payne, who came from Amelia Wednesday night to watch her grandson play.

“When I walked up, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she said.

She added she hopes the culprit will come forward and clean up the space.

“They need to learn a lesson,” she said. “They ought to have to go out there and scrub it, because I took my fingernail on it a little bit. I think they can get it off. That person should spend I don't know how many hours scratching trying to get it off."

The Reds Youth Academy, at 2026 E. Seymour Ave., features both indoor and outdoor complexes that provide free, year-round baseball and softball training programs for kids ages 5 to 18, according to the Reds.

The Mr. Redlegs bench is one of 24 the club placed around Greater Cincinnati and the region (including one in Dayton and one in Louisville) to mark the 150th anniversary of the original 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first professional team.