Youth sports coach's car, equipment stolen in front of his Woodlawn home: 'It's traumatic'

Cate Cauguiran Image
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Youth sports coach's car, equipment stolen in front of South Side home
A youth baseball coach became a car theft victim outside his home. The stolen car was later recovered, but much of his equipment is still missing.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The most terrifying 30 seconds of Ernest Radcliffe's life played out in front his Woodlawn home over the weekend.

"I'm replaying this over and over and over in my head," Radcliffe said. "I didn't know what to do. Man, I just didn't want to get shot."

The prominent South Side youth sports program director and head baseball coach at Morgan Park High School was loading the last of his athletic equipment into his SUV when two people approached him and stole it.

"When I turned, he was just there, and the other guy was in the car and boom, he jumped in - gone," Radcliffe said.

Chicago police said it happened on Saturday evening near 61st and South Ellis. The thieves took off with Radcliffe's vehicle and his baseball equipment inside.

Radcliffe said his SUV, thankfully, was found on Monday, a few miles away, and a box of baseball apparel was also located at a different location. But not all was recovered.

"All my other equipment, that's gone. My ball bucket, balls, fungo bats, training gloves, catcher's mitts catcher's gloves. That was gone," Radcliffe said.

But Radcliffe said he is still here, understanding that this story could have turned out differently.

"It's traumatic, because in a split second, you could be shot," Radcliffe said. "It's a terrible, terrible, terrible experience when you don't know if it's your last time you going to be on this earth."

True to his passion of helping to guide youth through sports, he says the community work he does is more integral than ever to combatting this type of crime.

"Those young people just probably need to be in, something positive, in a positive program," Radcliffe said. "I am just here, trying to help as many people as possible."

On Wednesday, Radcliffe said he since received donations to his youth sports organization from members of the community. He also received donations of athletic equipment from Wilson Sports and the Chicago Cubs.

He added one more of his bags was recovered overnight in the 1100 block of East 81st Street.

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