Tuesday, November 21, 2017
News Roundup

Volunteers look to revive once-proud Northside Little League

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA

The monument is situated in the middle of Northside Little League's fields, an enduring testament to its All-Star team that played in the 1989 Little League Baseball World Series at Williamsport, Pa.

It's a reminder that Northside has a big spot in Tampa's youth baseball legacy and the complex is much more than a collection of dusty diamonds. Something very significant and historic once happened here.

One of the Northside All-Stars was 12-year-old Kevin Cash, now manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.

"Best time of our lives,'' Cash said. "Lots of really good players and coaches. That place was packed every single night. What happened there is kind of sad.''

Northside Little League has become a baseball ghost town.

You can speculate about the potential reasons:

Changing demographics — specifically, a lack of young families — in the Northdale area. Too much turnover in the league's administration. Too many players shifting to travel ball or the Cal Ripken Baseball organizations at nearby Lutz and Citrus Park youth leagues.

But that debate won't change the facts. Northside baseball has all but evaporated. It hasn't fielded a significant league or an All-Star team in four years, even serving as host of District 6 tournaments but not offering a home-park team entry.

Troy Syversen, Northside Little League's president, hopes to change all of that.

"I have trouble wrapping my head around what has happened here,'' Syversen said. "I honestly think we can get the kids to come back and make this park back into what it should be. But it's going to take some work.''

Syversen and other volunteers — including former Rays catcher Toby Hall, active in youth baseball as a camp instructor and hitting coach — are rebuilding the overgrown, neglected fields and hope to have them playable this month.

To jump start interest, Syversen has waived the fall registration fee for the first 100 T-ball players. It's the most important group, he said, because Northside must be rebuilt from the ground up.

Syversen and Hall are reaching out to baseball contacts and Northside alumni — such as Cash — to ask for help. Whether it's donations, labor or time, all contributions are welcomed and needed.

"There's new blood and they've dedicated themselves to bringing the park back,'' said Florida District 6 Little League administrator Terry Thompson, whose children once played at Northside. "The community involvement is coming back and so is the spirit that was always there during the park's glory days.

"I am encouraged. But it will take baby steps.''

Syversen said officials from Hillsborough County's Parks and Recreation Department inquired about the vacant fields, expressing interest in making them available for lacrosse or soccer. Softball has continued at Northside, which combines with other leagues to offset low participation, but baseball needs a fresh start.

"It takes work and a lot of dedicated volunteers,'' Syversen said. "It takes that in the best of times, but when you're essentially starting over, it really takes a lot of that.

"It's worth saving and worth bringing back. There's history here.''

Northside's 1989 All-Stars was one of seven Tampa teams to reach Williamsport, including three from Belmont Heights, two from West Tampa and the most recent from Citrus Park in 2008.

"It was like riding a giant wave,'' Cash said. "We were like mini-celebrities, on TV every night. You wish feelings like that could last forever.

"In a way, it does. I've had guys in major-league clubhouses ask me, 'You played in Williamsport? What was that like?' I'll never forget it.''

Nothing lasts forever.

Sometimes, things do get forgotten.

But Syversen said he's confident that Northside Little League will have its day again.

"The kids and families will come back,'' Syversen said. "I believe that. We just need to get it rolling.''

Contact Joey Johnston at [email protected]

     
   
Comments
Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Thanksgiving can put a heavy burden on the host. We’ve assembled five appetizers that are quick and easy to prep. Some, like our risotto balls and goat-cheese figs, cater to vegetarian diets, so you can be sure to please all your guests. Even i...
Updated: 2 minutes ago
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Jury to decide whether Adam Matos be put to death in Hudson quadruple-murder

Jury to decide whether Adam Matos be put to death in Hudson quadruple-murder

NEW PORT RICHEY — A jury today could decide that the man convicted in the brutal slaying of four — including his former girlfriend — should be put to death.The jury in the Adam Matos trial returns at 9:30 a.m. to hear closing arguments and begin deli...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Forecast: Clouds build, setting stage for a soggy Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Clouds build, setting stage for a soggy Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay

Clouds and temperatures are increasing — and so are rain chances – as Thanksgiving could be a soggy one across the Tampa Bay region.[WTSP]Check the latest Tampa Bay-area live radar: The wet outlook is due to a systems that will produce spotty shower...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Florida man bites police officer during warrant hearing

Florida man bites police officer during warrant hearing

Miami (AP) — Authorities say a man bit a police officer who was taking him into custody during a hearing in a Miami courtroom.Miami-Dade police spokesman Argemis Colome tells news outlets the officer suffered a "severe injury" when Godel Leveille bit...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Joe Henderson: Low-attendance Athletics fund own stadium, how about Rays?

Joe Henderson: Low-attendance Athletics fund own stadium, how about Rays?

I would like to believe what Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said about a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.It sounded good when he told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, "I’m more focused on working with the community to figure out...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Debunking the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories

Rick and Tom podcast: Debunking the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones debunk the Jameis Winston conspiracy theories as he will miss a third consecutive game this weekend in Atlanta.The guys explain that Winston’s absence is purely medical and has nothing to do with the...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The Daystarter: Jury to decide Matos’ fate; details into Halladay’s plane crash; barriers help secure North Straub Park through holidays; sexual assault reports down at MacDill

The Daystarter: Jury to decide Matos’ fate; details into Halladay’s plane crash; barriers help secure North Straub Park through holidays; sexual assault reports down at MacDill

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• Expect rain today and through the rest of the week, according to 10Weather WTSP. It will likely be a wet Thanksgiving.10News WTSPThe latest 7-day forecast• As you head out fo...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Crash involving bicyclist closes EB lanes on W Kennedy Boulevard in downtown Tampa

TAMPA — Eastbound lanes on W Kennedy Boulevard were reopened by 6:30 a.m. at S Parker Street in downtown Tampa after a bicyclist was struck early Tuesday morning.The crash occurred in front of the University of Tampa, according to broadcast reports.W...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

Barricades reinforce security for holiday events on St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront

Times Staff Writer ST. PETERSBURG — World and national tragedies are changing the city’s approach to security for special events at North Straub Park.With the approach of the holidays, concrete barricades have been erected at a section of the park’s ...
Updated: 5 hours ago