Attempts will be made to repair the plaque at Matthew Ryan Powers Memorial Field.
| 5:20 p.m. January 11, 2022
Once a month, Dan Powers makes a trip to the dumpsters behind the Lakewood Ranch Little League complex to recycle cardboard.
Besides doing his part to help the environment, there is a more important facet to his visits. Each time he goes to the park, he pays a visit to a plaque honoring the memory of his son Matthew Powers, a former Lakewood Ranch Little League player who was killed in a car accident on his way to the Lakewood Ranch homecoming dance on Sept. 15, 2018.
Field 1 at the complex was named after Matthew Powers, and the plaque along with signs bearing his name were dedicated in the opening day ceremony for the 2020 season in February of that year. Ever since then, that’s been a place where Dan Powers and the rest of his family feel like they can be close with Matthew.
“His face is on that plaque and whenever relatives come to town, that's one of the places that they always wanted to see,” Dan Powers said. “We have nieces and nephews coming to town in the summer and they want to actually go play baseball on Matthew’s field.”
Baseball players and parents looking to get some practice time on the field made a disturbing discovery over the holidays. The plaque, now less than 2 years old, was heavily vandalized and the image of Powers’ face — which the players of one team touched for luck before every game last spring — was scratched out.
“This is just people being people,” Powers said. “We don't have any say in it because technically, we're not the victims. The county is the victim because it is county property. We’re hoping somebody somebody comes forward, while there's still a chance to make it right before this escalates, or evolves any more.”
Powers said the plaque has been removed by the Manatee County Parks Department and will be sent away to see if it can be repaired or if it must be replaced. Either way, a plaque will return to its rightful spot — even if the $1,600 cost for the bronze plaque needs to be raised.
“They've (Lakewood Ranch Little League) already had hundreds of people offering donations to fund the replacement of it,” Powers said. “There have also been some businesses and organizations offered to fund the entire cost of the replacement.”
Because the damage was done to a memorial monument, those who committed the act of vandalism could be charged with a third degree felony. Powers said the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office indicated there were no leads as of this time but hopes that changes once schools return to session after the holiday break.
“Kids talk and vandals never vandalize anything alone,” Powers said. “So somebody else was there and somebody else knows about it. Hopefully, the responsible parties will do the right thing and come forward and make it right — and not let this ruin their life. We would hate for one irresponsible act like this to destroy somebody's life.”