CHICAGO - The nearly 1000 Little League Baseball games scheduled to be played at Welles Park this spring will have to either move somewhere else or not be played at all.
"There's zero grass and it smelled terrible. It smelled like a zoo," said 13-year-old umpire Will McCaffrey, who umped a game there last Sunday. "The grubs ate every single piece of grass. They ate the roots and there's none left."
That will be the last game McCaffrey umps at Welles for the foreseeable future.
The spring Little League season is supposed to start in April, but the Chicago Park District says the beetle grub infestation is so bad, Welles Park's baseball fields won't be usable until late May, or June at the earliest.
"At this point, we are in the process of trying to find other parks and locations throughout the city to hold the season," said Ross Kerr, President of the Welles Park Parents' Association.
Kerr says other parks and baseball associations around the city have been extremely accommodating given the situation and is hoping a full season can still happen.
"There's a possibility we may have to shorten the season, curtail certain age levels, perhaps even not let some people into the league that we would normally let play, but we're trying to avoid that," said Kerr. "All options on the table if we don't find the necessary field options that we need."
The Chicago Park District confirmed Wednesday the turf damage is the handiwork of the larval stage June beetle, and says it's likely weather patterns that led to the unusual infestation.
On Thursday, the Park District is going to begin treating the field with a pesticide called Dylox, which the Park District says will kill the grubs, but is safe for humans and other animals.
In the meantime, the Welles Park Parents Association urges parents to go ahead and register their kids to play this spring and wait for details on alternate locations.