Throgs Neck Little League is safe now, but the Green Monster of Throggs Neck was more dangerous than anyone had imaged.
Most of the tall green, chain link fence that kept Throgs Neck Little League hitters from sending the ball into the houses and cars along Harding Avenue has been removed because it was severely rotted and in danger of collapsing.
On Tuesday, September 7, the Department of Design and Construction removed about 25 feet from the top of the roughly 40-foot high fence.
“It could have been a real horror show,” said Frank Eisele of the Throgs Neck Little League. “There were cracks in there going up seven, eight inches in some of those poles. We were afraid, especially now with school reopening, that some kids could be walking by there and it could just fall over. It’s safe now.”
According to Eisele, the fence along the left side of the field first went up in 1972, but after a severe storm knocked over the structure about 20 years ago, it was replaced with new metal poles and a removable fence that could be taken down with a pulley system during the off-season.
The league planned to replace the poles after decades of bringing the removable fence up and down each season started taking a toll on the equipment. But they had no idea how bad it had gotten, Eisele said.
About two years ago Councilman Jimmy Vacca provided the team with a $250,000 grant to replace windows, patch up the roof of the field house and fix the fence, among other things. But when engineers took one look at the poles after this summer’s season ended, they told league officials that the fence had to come down immediately.
“Originally it was just a rehab of the fence,” said department spokesman Craig Chin. “But when we went out and looked at it, we knew we were going to have to reconstruct the whole thing.”
According to Chin, the department is developing plans to replace the fence, but the project is still in the design phase and cost estimates are yet to be determined. Department officials are hoping to begin construction on a new fence later this year.
Eisele said he hopes replacing the fence will stay within the budget of Councilman Vacca’s allocation, otherwise next summer’s season could be scrapped entirely.
“If we can’t get the funding there is a good possibility we will have to cancel the season,” he said. “Any of the bigger hitters could easily send a ball into one of the houses, or into a some unsuspecting guy’s car, or even a bus.”
Eisele said he will continue to work with city officials to look for funding.