AthleticBusiness.com has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

Copyright 2014 The Tribune Co. Publishes The Tampa Tribune
All Rights Reserved
The Tampa Tribune (Florida)
ELIZABETH BEHRMAN; Tribune staff

Evan Longoria's successful 2012 season is bringing much-needed upgrades to the Belmont Heights Little League fields.

Longoria, in partnership with Red Bull's Tampa's Got Wings program, donated $1,000 for each home run and $500 for each RBI hit by the Tampa Bay Rays third baseman throughout that season. The program announced in April that Longoria helped raise almost $80,000, to be split between Belmont Heights and the Cross Bayou Little League in Seminole.

This week, Tampa and Hillsborough County each made $35,000 donations, to be joined with the money Longoria helped raise, and improvements are being made at

one of the country's longest-surviving inner-city baseball programs.

You have to invest in something the kids want to go to, said Charlie Miranda, chairman of the Tampa City Council, which approved the donation during Thursday's meeting.

Longoria and a team of volunteers have been out to the Belmont Heights field to interact with the young players and do some work cleaning up two of the league's four fields, but there is much more work to be done, said Artis Gambrell Jr., the league's president.

Belmont Heights outlined a list of requests for the city, which includes new sod and lighting, upgrades to the concession area, new scoreboards and a new scorekeeper's box with bleachers.

The work is in the design phase, and the city soon will put the construction contracts out to bid, said city parks and recreation director Greg Bayor. Bayor said he hopes the additional $70,000 from the city and county will cover all those costs.

The improvements will make the Belmont Heights Little League comparable to other programs throughout the county, said Gambrell, 47.

We've got a lot of love and a lot of memories here, he said. We like to see things still moving.

Gambrell played baseball in the Belmont Heights league when he was a kid and his dad was a coach. He volunteered with the league for years before he became its president in 2005.

Belmont Heights teams won multiple Little League World Series titles in the 1980s and produced baseball stars such as Dwight Gooden, Gary Sheffield and Carl Everett.

The Belmont Heights Little League was founded in 1968 after local race riots in 1967. Organizers of the league wanted to give recreational opportunities to the children in the predominantly black East Tampa neighborhood. The league originally served as a feeder program for then all-black Middleton High School, Gambrell said.

More than 300 kids play in the league now, ranging in ages from 4 to 16, Gambrell said. There is a waiting list to get onto one of Belmont Heights' 23 teams.

The league provides an opportunity for local kids that they wouldn't have otherwise, said Gambrell, an assistant principal at Sligh Middle School. They get to play the game, make friends and benefit from the teamwork and discipline baseball teaches them, he said.

Baseball is all about life, Gambrell said. We're not necessarily trying to produce pro athletes, we're trying to produce young men.

Miranda, who played baseball in the city league at West Tampa's Cuscaden Park in the 1950s, said he doesn't know what would have happened to some of the kids in his neighborhood without baseball.

You learn how to win, but you also learn how to lose, Miranda said. In life, that's where the balance is.

ebehrman@tampatrib.com

(813)259-7691

Twitter: @LizBehrmanTBO

FIELDS, Page 5

- Evan Longoria's successful 2012 season is bringing much-needed upgrades to the Belmont Heights Little League fields.

Longoria, in partnership with Red Bull's Tampa's Got Wings program, donated $1,000 for each home run and $500 for each RBI hit by the Tampa Bay Rays third baseman throughout that season. The program announced in April that Longoria helped raise almost $80,000, to be split between Belmont Heights and the Cross Bayou Little League in Seminole.

This week, Tampa and Hillsborough County each made $35,000 donations, to be joined with the money Longoria helped raise, and improvements are being made at

one of the country's longest-surviving inner-city baseball programs.

You have to invest in something the kids want to go to, said Charlie Miranda, chairman of the Tampa City Council, which approved the donation during Thursday's meeting.

Longoria and a team of volunteers have been out to the Belmont Heights field to interact with the young players and do some work cleaning up two of the league's four fields, but there is much more work to be done, said Artis Gambrell Jr., the league's president.

Belmont Heights outlined a list of requests for the city, which includes new sod and lighting, upgrades to the concession area, new scoreboards and a new scorekeeper's box with bleachers.

The work is in the design phase, and the city soon will put the construction contracts out to bid, said city parks and recreation director Greg Bayor. Bayor said he hopes the additional $70,000 from the city and county will cover all those costs.

The improvements will make the Belmont Heights Little League comparable to other programs throughout the county, said Gambrell, 47.

We've got a lot of love and a lot of memories here, he said. We like to see things still moving.

Gambrell played baseball in the Belmont Heights league when he was a kid and his dad was a coach. He volunteered with the league for years before he became its president in 2005.

Belmont Heights teams won multiple Little League World Series titles in the 1980s and produced baseball stars such as Dwight Gooden, Gary Sheffield and Carl Everett.

The Belmont Heights Little League was founded in 1968 after local race riots in 1967. Organizers of the league wanted to give recreational opportunities to the children in the predominantly black East Tampa neighborhood. The league originally served as a feeder program for then all-black Middleton High School, Gambrell said.

More than 300 kids play in the league now, ranging in ages from 4 to 16, Gambrell said. There is a waiting list to get onto one of Belmont Heights' 23 teams.

The league provides an opportunity for local kids that they wouldn't have otherwise, said Gambrell, an assistant principal at Sligh Middle School. They get to play the game, make friends and benefit from the teamwork and discipline baseball teaches them, he said.

Baseball is all about life, Gambrell said. We're not necessarily trying to produce pro athletes, we're trying to produce young men.

Miranda, who played baseball in the city league at West Tampa's Cuscaden Park in the 1950s, said he doesn't know what would have happened to some of the kids in his neighborhood without baseball.

You learn how to win, but you also learn how to lose, Miranda said. In life, that's where the balance is.

ebehrman@tampatrib.com

(813)259-7691

Twitter: @LizBehrmanTBO

Fields

From Page 1

 

February 23, 2014

 

 
 

 

Copyright © 2014 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy