Sunday, June 24, 2018
News Roundup

Temple Terrace considers letting travel ball outfit use fields

TEMPLE TERRACE — Fewer kids these days are playing Temple Terrace Little League and PONY League baseball.

Many of the stellar players have been drawn away to "travel ball'' teams, groups that play teams throughout the region, not just the neighborhood. And unlike in Little League and PONY — those traditional bastions of all-inclusive youth baseball — travel ball coaches don't have to take every kid who wants to play.

It's not a trend that the city recreation department and some City Council members welcome. But the popularity of travel ball is a fact they have to reckon with as they try to get the most use out of their 10 baseball fields, five currently set aside for Little League and five for PONY League during their spring and fall seasons.

The fields are being underused, said Bill Martin, speaking at a recent council meeting. He represents Sports 2 Serve, a nonprofit company that wants to take over the five PONY League fields at the city complex on U.S. 301 for travel ball tournaments and practice.

"To put it in perspective, Temple Terrace has more fields committed to two very undermanned — as far as participation — baseball leagues than the Yankees have for their whole (Tampa) complex, including spring training, their developmental leagues and the Tampa Yankees,'' Martin said.

Sports 2 Serve, founded by Temple Terrace resident Steve Richards, has offered to pay the city $18,000 a year to have exclusive use of the fields that are now reserved during spring and fall for PONY League teams. Richards said the company plans to donate money raised through travel ball tournaments to Temple Terrace charities, such as the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry at Corpus Christi Catholic Church.

Little League and PONY pay according to how many kids they have in their programs. Last year, PONY paid the city about $12,000, said Michelle Edelmann, vice president of Temple Terrace's PONY League program.

She said it's unfair that an organization with more money to offer might dislodge her players from their traditional venue.

"They want to kick all my children out of the park and turn it into a travel ball tournament and baseball academy park,'' she said.

Council member Alison Fernandez, who said her sons have played in both Little League and PONY League programs in Temple Terrace, said she wants to make sure that all kids in the community who want to play baseball can play.

While allowing that she is no fan of travel ball, she suggested that Little League and PONY could play on the same fields by making adjustments to account for the change in distances between bases and from the pitcher's mound to home plate.

Council members instructed leisure services director James Chambers to meet with the various leagues, propose contracts that are fair and equitable to all, and report back.

Karl Langefeld, director of the parks and recreation division, said in an interview that adjustments could be made so that fields could be adapted for Little League or PONY play, though it would not be ideal. The problem comes in having pitching rubbers built in different positions on the mound; a ball hitting a forward rubber could bounce errantly and injure the pitcher, he said.

Both he and Chambers say travel ball has had a sharp negative impact on the recreation department in the past decade.

"We don't like travel ball, either, as a recreation department,'' Chambers said. "I'm seeing what it has done to our league play.''

Little League was down to 104 players last season from a high of more than 300 in years past, he said. PONY, which once drew more than 250 players, was down to 87.

Each child who signs on with Little League or PONY pays a fee to the recreation department, so the lost players mean lost revenue for the city.

Contact Philip Morgan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3435.

Comments
Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays first baseman Jake Bauers sat at his locker after Sunday afternoon's 7-6, 12-inning win over the Yankees and thumbed through his text messages. There was no way he could get through them all. That's what happens when ...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Rays journal: Yarbrough comes through, Venters to DL, support for Ramos

Rays journal: Yarbrough comes through, Venters to DL, support for Ramos

ST. PETERSBURG — Ryan Yarbrough was only supposed to throw on Sunday if it was an emergency. In the 12th inning with the score tied 6-6 and a runner on first, there was an emergency.Jonny Venters tweaked his right hamstring trying to cover firs...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Hit-and-run driver plows into New Tampa family on bike ride

Hit-and-run driver plows into New Tampa family on bike ride

A Tampa man suffered life-threatening injuries and his 3-year-old son is in serious condition after being struck by a hit-and-run driver as they went on a family bike ride Sunday afternoon."This is a family in a very tough situation," Tampa police Ch...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays season turning into good one

Rays season turning into good one

ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays are not the best team in baseball. They are not going to win the World Series this year. Heck, they probably won't even make the playoffs.But I tell you what. This team is a heck of a lot of fun to watch.And ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

A local hockey draftee? Mitchell grad Nathan Smith is just that

TAMPA — Every year during draft season, local players from the Tampa Bay area are selected in the NFL, MLB and even NBA drafts.But hockey?Sure enough, in the third round of Saturday's NHL draft, the Winnipeg Jets selected Nathan Smith, a forwar...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

ST. PETERSBURGSuspect dead, 2 injured in home invasion, shootingThree people forced their way into a St. Petersburg house before dawn Sunday before gunfire broke out, killing a suspect and injuring two residents, police said.About 5:30 a.m., the peop...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

The coast of White Rock, British Columbia, in western Canada looks to be an ideal place for a run, with its sweeping views of the Semiahmoo Bay to the west and scores of waterfront homes and seafood restaurants to the east. Thatís what 19-year-old Ce...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

Office building demolition at Midtown Tampa site proves tougher than expected

TAMPA ó Stripped to the girders, the old Bromley office building looked about as substantial as fish bones on a dinner plate.But the 5-story structure proved Sunday it still had a surprising amount of fight left in it.A demolition team had planned to...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A 19-year-old driver died in a three-car crash on Moon Lake Road on Saturday afternoon, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.Jillian Faith Hitt, 19 and of New Port Richey, was driving north on the road in a 2008 Hyundai Accent, weari...
Updated: 7 hours ago
President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

STERLING, Ill. - As a longtime editor of small-town newspapers, Jeff Rogers has seen his industry face the collapse of print advertising, the rise of the internet and more. Today, his 18 employees work in a newsroom here that puts out two daily newsp...
Updated: 7 hours ago