CORDIA – A small Eastern Kentucky school is getting some help after thousands of dollars in sporting equipment was stolen, leaving officials to wonder how they were going to make up for the loss.
It was two months ago that at least two thieves broke into the fieldhouse and dugout at Cordia High School’s baseball field, damaging doors and locks and making off with equipment and several other items. In all, according to baseball coach Joe Melton, the school suffered a $10,000 loss as a result of the burglary.
Local media outlets covered the story, which led to a blurb being picked up in the nationally circulated USA Today newspaper. That edition eventually fell into the hands of Dan Pintaric, who makes his home in a suburb just east of Denver, Colorado called Centennial. While Pintaric may have been a stranger to the folks at Cordia, he is actually no stranger to Kentucky. He was drafted to the military in 1968 and underwent basic training at Fort Knox, where he was stationed before shipping out to Vietnam.
Pintaric is semi-retired, and as a hobby collects baseballs and trades them at a national chain called Play It Again Sports, which sales new and used sporting goods. When he read the blurb in the USA Today about Cordia’s baseball team, he knew that some baseball equipment he had sitting in his house could come in handy.
“When I called Joe (Melton) and finally got a hold of him, he told me some of the details of what had happened, and how the kids had to raise the money to buy some of that stuff,” Pintaric told the Herald during a telephone conversation this week. “I thought, hey, why not do something nice for a little school, kind of a semi-rural area.”
What Pintaric did was bundle up several pieces of equipment, including mitts, spikes and catching gear, and ship them to Melton for use by the baseball team, all at his own expense.
“I had the stuff in my basement,” Pintaric added, “and I always say it doesn’t do anybody any good sitting in my basement.”
Just a few days later, Melton received the gift in a large equipment bag. With Pintaric’s donation and others from the local community, the Cordia baseball team is on its way to making up for the loss they suffered back in June. And the generosity directed at the school from a complete stranger several states away was not lost on the student-athletes.
“When I brought [the equipment] in that day and showed the kids, the excitement on their faces that somebody from across the country would take the time to send that stuff, it meant a lot to them,” Melton said.
In addition, several local businesses and community members have also worked to pitch in, either with fund drives or volunteer work at the fields, all of which Melton said has been appreciated.
“The community has been a big help,” he said. “Tim Short Ford has stepped in and helped us get some of the funds back. Just the community itself has come in and helped mow the fields, and the board of education (in Knott County), Greg Stacy helped replace some of the locks. So we’re slowly getting back to the way it was. We’ve still got a long way to go.”
With the generosity of people like Pintaric, however, getting things back to normal may not take as long as officials once feared,
“I was happy to do it,” he said.
As of Friday, no arrests have been made in the burglary, and authorities urge anyone with information to contact the Kentucky State Police in Hazard at 606-435-6069.