Tables Turn on Teen Vandals Playing Mailbox Baseball

Oct 09, 2014 at 12:30 PM ET

Tragedy with a dash of poetic justice struck a great American pastime this week when a 16-year-old boy suffered severe head injuries during a game of mailbox baseball.

The freak accident unfolded while a team of teens and adults cruised around Grants Pass, Oregon, in a motor home Saturday night, smashing up the 1700 block of Highland Avenue with a wooden stick and metal baseball bat, police say.

At some point (police did not confirm what inning), a dim-witted slugger in the front passenger seat grabbed the metal bat and leaned out his window. Swinging for the fences, the batter instead struck a telephone pole. The bat flew backward and clobbered his cohort, who was looking out from a rear window.

The injured teen, whose name was not released, had to be flown 250 miles to a Portland-area hospital for treatment, the Grants Pass Courier reported. Meanwhile, the cops grilled the other players in the dugout of the Grants Pass Police Department.

Police eventually arrested Breanna White, the driver of the motor home, and charged the 21-year-old with second-degree assault. Vega Russell, a 21-year-old passenger, was booked on a third-degree assault charge. Dennis Mosier, 18, was charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. Another passenger, who remains unnamed because he’s a teen, was booked into jail on a parole violation.

The near-fatal blooper falls at the end of a mailbox baseball season unrivaled since the film Stand by Me immortalized the game in 1986, prompting a new generation of sporting vandals. 

In August, mischief-makers destroyed more than 100 mailboxes in Smyth County, Virginia. And police in Longmont, Colorado, this June apprehended a mailbox baseball player who also happened to be packing a 9 mm handgun and 18-round ammunition clip. Meanwhile, authorities from Pennsylvania to Missouri have run ragged trying to break up the late-night games, which tend to plague rural and suburban communities. 

While many homeowners have likely wished bodily harm upon their mailbox perpetrators, Saturday’s mishap appears to be rare, with just one other reported injury on the books. Back in 2007, Lee Yattaw became a suburban hero when he used his own baseball bat to attack two men who allegedly smashed his mailbox in Colonie, New York. And though one Wisconsin family embarked on a 100 mph chase to hunt down some mailbox vandals in 2008, their pursuit ended with a call to the cops, not a beatdown.  

Many mailbox baseball targets opt to cry foul on one of the countless online community forums dedicated to the topic, then plunk down $50 or $60 on a new letter drop. But there are those who silently plot revenge. Some claim to reinforce their mailboxes with steel bars or hidden metal poles. Others spring for a contraption called a BatGrabber, which hides nails inside a plastic tube connected to their mailbox.

The most frequently debated deterrent, however, is a good old-fashioned mailbox furtively coated in cement. Even eHow provides a quick tutorial on how to make one. But a note of caution: The cement mailbox is even stronger than a telephone pole. And if an episode of CSI Miami is any indication, you could end up with a couple of dead mailbox baseball players on your hands.