Even Carolina Mudcats general manager Joe Kremer, who has spent 22 years working in minor league baseball, had never experienced anything quite like the incident after Tuesday night's Carolina League game against the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
A man was arrested for sneaking into the visiting clubhouse at Five County Stadium and allegedly secretly videotaping Wilmington players as they changed and showered following the game. A team maintenance worker confronted 32-year-old LaDarryl Strong in the clubhouse and several employees prevented him from fleeing the ballpark until police arrived. Strong, who told police that he works with special needs children in the Lenoir County (N.C.) school system, was arrested and charged with felony secret peeping, first-degree trespass, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He has been released on bond.
"I do commend my staff for doing their job and quick thinking. It was a very unfortunate incident," Kremer said.
Police searched Strong's house and removed 20 computers. Kremer said that Strong told police while being arrested that he had videotaped other locker rooms. Kremer said that there is no indication Strong had previously done this in Carolina.
"We absolutely expect to find other crimes on the videos," Zebulon police chief Tim Hayworth told WRAL.com and described the stadium incident as a "very bold" crime that a first-time offender would never attempt.
Kremer said Strong managed to sneak into the fenced-in clubhouse area behind the ballpark when the team opened the back gates for the Blue Rocks' team bus. Posed as a maintenance worker wearing blue plastic gloves, Strong walked into the visiting locker room while the clubhouse attendant was in the laundry room and was able to videotape players for several minutes without being noticed. When confronted, Strong told Mudcats staff that he was looking for a team schedule.
The Mudcats will not make any significant changes to their security procedures but will have an employee stationed outside the clubhouses, Kremer said, noting that the area is usually busy with staff after games. Kremer said he spoke with Wilmington manager Vance Wilson and Royals farm director Scott Sharp, who he said were both understanding and appreciative of the Mudcats' work to apprehend Strong.