Son of legendary South Bend baseball coach in disbelief after father’s jersey is stolen

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 6:56 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Anyone who follows baseball in South Bend has probably heard the name of the late James Reinebold.

“You can’t have a conversation about baseball here in South Bend without having the Reinebold name in it,” Clay High School Assistant Coach Tony Cruz says.

As the head baseball coach at Clay High School for 25 seasons, Reinebold won over 600 games, and led the Colonials to a state championship in 1970.

“State champs and, far as I know, he is the winning-est high school baseball coach here,” Cruz says.

Clay Baseball even renamed their field to Jim Reinebold Field and retired his jersey, placing it inside the dugout before each game.

“My dad passed away in 2017. Every home game we had since then, it’s always been in the dugout with us,” Reinebold’s son, current Clay High School Varsity Baseball Head Coach Joel Reinebold told 16 News Now Wednesday.

But when vandals struck the Clay Baseball press-box this past week, they did more than just physical damage, they took ‘#4′ with them.

“Once that was seen, it was like the world stopped. Like what’s going on? What happened? Why?” Cruz said to himself in frustration.

However, Reinebold’s jersey was not the only thing stolen from the press box.

“Not only was a jersey taken, but also they took a lot of stuff that the kids have raised together for a fundraiser, because we have to finance for our own program, and the jersey met something to me, but the kids got hurt because their efforts were stolen,” Joel Reinebold said.

Now, the team led by his son, and Reinebold once led, is asking for the public’s help to get Reinebold’s jersey back in the Clay Baseball Clubhouse where it belongs.

“The jersey doesn’t mean anything to whoever took it. It means a lot more to me, obviously, and my family and the kids who actually played here,” Joel Reinebold says.

“Why would you do that? For what? You got your kicks, you got your laughs, but while you were getting your kicks and laughs, we were hurting here, and he needs to be home,” Cruz says.

Police are have been made aware and are looking into the break-in.

Meanwhile, Milt Lee, who is head of athletics for South Bend Schools, says a labeled bin of some sort will be placed near Jim Reinebold Field over the weekend with the hope the person(s) who took it, will return it anonymously.

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