Baseball diamond dilemma: poison ivy & treacherous trees

ALBANY – In the event of a wild pitch or passed ball at Central Babe Ruth in Albany, the local ground rule these days calls for the ball to become dead immediately. The intent (and the hope) is to prevent players from reaching into a patch of poison ivy that clings to and climbs up the backstop and other areas of the ball field.

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“I have never been to a ballfield where I’ve heard that from another team, telling us to be careful of the poison ivy,” said Anthony Littlejohn, President of Central Babe Ruth, “It’s kind of embarrassing to let other teams know that.”

Littlejohn’s arms are still covered with poison ivy scars that have persisted for weeks, but the menacing three-leaf plants are not his only concern.

“Our biggest worry, if kids are out here playing, and the wind is just blowing hard that day, we’re worried that someone could get hurt with limbs and stuff falling on them,” he stated.

A powerful thunderstorm earlier this month knocked down large tree limbs which damaged batting cages, prompting league officials to send a letter to Albany City Hall – which owns the property – requesting assistance resolving their safety concerns.

“The limbs fell down after a storm,” David Galin, Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s Chief of Staff, said. “The arborist would tell you that a healthy living tree can still lose limbs during a storm, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a dying tree.”

Galin says the city’s arborist – who was at the field Friday afternoon surveying the situation – will determine if the trees need to be trimmed or taken down entirely.

Volunteers can probably manage the poison ivy removal, Littlejohn said.