Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Safety Harbor Little League mourns after dedicated volunteer dies in dugout

Safety Harbor Little League volunteer Danny Donovan was found dead in the dugout after more than 20 years of service.

Courtesy Safety Harbor Little League

Safety Harbor Little League volunteer Danny Donovan was found dead in the dugout after more than 20 years of service.

SAFETY HARBOR — For more than 20 years, Danny Donovan spent six days a week prepping the ball fields and ordering the uniforms and trophies for Safety Harbor Little League.

A volunteer, he spent so much time at the league's ballpark that some people thought he was an employee.

On Monday Donovan, 58, was found dead in the dugout at the park at 940 Seventh St. S. Donovan's family says he died of natural causes, but the exact reason is unclear.

Donovan had no children of his own, but he played a central role in the lives of many children who played ball at the park. He worked there nearly every day for hours, preparing schedules, ordering supplies, dragging and striping the fields before the games, and taking care of other league details.

He apparently died Monday as he was preparing the fields for the evening games. After his body was found by a league board member, police blocked off the area and league officials temporarily closed the ballpark.

Donovan began volunteering when his nephews, now in their 30s, played there as children. His life was entirely dedicated to the 350 children in the league and to taking care of his elderly mother.

"He was very good at helping others. A very hard worker," said his brother Brian Donovan, 56. "He did a lot for this family and a lot at that park."

Games resumed there Wednesday night after the children and parents stood for a moment of silence.

A native New Yorker who shied from the spotlight, Donovan might have been surprised by the community outpouring over his death. He's captured headlines on local news outlets and is memorialized on the Safety Harbor Little League website and on Facebook. Some people cooked dinners for his family.

"He was always so bashful," said former league president Eric Burks. "At events, I would always be like 'Give a big round of applause for Danny Donovan!' and he'd be off hiding behind a tree somewhere."

Some younger kids might not know Donovan. To them, the fields were just ever-ready, magically clean and smooth.

But for the parents, and for the older players, the death was a blow.

In 2011, Burks nominated Donovan as Volunteer of the Year.

In the nomination letter, Burks wrote about Donovan's impact.

Danny Donovan is simply the soul of Safety Harbor Little League, and the day that he no longer does what he does, we will struggle greatly to replace him. Some of us arrive early on Saturday mornings to help prepare for the day's games, but Danny has typically beaten us there and will shrug and say that he couldn't sleep and wanted to make sure everything was ready to go for the games that day. Danny doesn't spend a lot of time directly interacting with the kids and prefers to remain in the background, but I've seen countless times where a child goes to him for help with a broken glove string or catcher's mask, and Danny whisks off to the fieldhouse and returns shortly having fixed whatever problem existed. People rarely see this, and that's just the way Danny prefers it. He has tirelessly served thousands of families in our community for twenty years, and we hope he hangs around a lot longer.

The league held an emergency meeting Tuesday to figure out how to move forward without Donovan. Parents are making time in their schedules to take care of the fields. They'll have to figure out the rest as they go along.

"The guy died doing what he loved to do. He loved preparing the field for those kids," Burks said. "We take some solace in that."

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at bdavis@tampabay.com or (850) 323-0353. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.

Safety Harbor Little League mourns after dedicated volunteer dies in dugout 03/13/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 7:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]

  2. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.
  3. CIA chief: Intel leaks on the rise amid 'worship' of leakers

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — CIA director Mike Pompeo says he thinks disclosure of America's secret intelligence is on the rise, fueled partly by the "worship" of leakers like Edward Snowden.

    CIA director Mike Pompeo said the U.S. must redouble its efforts to stop information from leaking.
  4. ABC Racing kennel advances three into semifinals

    Parimutuels

    ST. PETERSBURG — The maiden voyage by Don Burk into the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby series — his first as the ABC Racing kennel owner — went as easy as ABC.

  5. Why Grenfell tower burned: Regulators put cost before safety

    World

    The doorbell woke Yassin Adam just before 1 a.m. A neighbor was frantically alerting others on the fourth floor of Grenfell Tower about a fire in his apartment. "My fridge blew up," the man shouted.

    At least 79 people were killed in the fire at the Grenfell Tower apartment building in London, and the toll is expected to rise.