Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Baseball lifer David Vince never quits hustling

CLEARWATER — David Vince grew up trying to play sports with intensity as fierce as any able-bodied athlete.

Even though he has prosthetic legs.

As an infant, Vince was diagnosed with tibia hemophilia, a birth defect that resulted in a severe loss of blood, and had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 2. Still, he dreamed of a career in baseball, despite many doubters.

After all, baseball was reserved for the swift and the agile — boys who were nothing like Vince. But if Vince could make it in baseball, he knew he could transcend his disability.

He found his path: coaching.

Vince, 48, has coached for 27 seasons and has nearly 450 victories at the high school, college and international level. This past season, he took over at Clearwater High and led the Tornadoes to the district semifinals.

This week, he is taking a team of local and national players on a two-week trip to Italy, where they will play against the Italian junior national team.

"I've always had a passion for the game," said Vince, who grew up in Louisiana. "I knew I wanted to be involved in it in some way. Coaching gives me that chance. I've always tried to pick the brains of other coaches to make me better."

Vince spent his childhood watching games from the sideline, taking notes on how players moved and how coaches instructed. A passion was born. Vince continued asking for any and all pointers on baseball. He picked up instructional pamphlets. He attended clinics. He absorbed every aspect.

Vince became a man of exacting detail and plain language who has parlayed the curses of life into a professional career.

"I could never go out and just do something like most baseball players," said Vince, who has used prosthetics since an early age. "I was always the team manager. I had to watch and learn. But I think that has made me a better coach. I've really had to study the game."

In his coaching career, Vince got a lesson in American geography, chasing jobs in Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida. Though he led a nomadic life, Vince eventually settled down. He has been married to Susan for 24 years.

They decided to start a family. Their son, Jordan, 10, is a picture of health. Their daughter, Sierra, was born with a genetic birth defect. She was diagnosed at an early age with tibia hemophilia and had both feet amputated.

"The doctors said it was going to be a 50-50 chance any child we have was going to have this birth defect," Vince said. "Sierra really was a miracle baby. She was born two months premature. She had water on the brain. But she came through."

Last year, Vince left Tennessee to coach baseball and teach at Clearwater in part because of the proximity to Tampa Shriners Hospital, where Sierra can take care of her prosthetic needs.

Sierra, now 8, plays most sports, including gymnastics.

"You'd never know she went through so much," Vince said. "The medical field is so much more advanced than when I was growing up. She can do just about anything."

Even in tough times, Vince's work has remained such a part of his life that he can't stay away. He plans to continue coaching — and learning — for years to come. "The day I stop becoming a student of the game is the day I quit coaching," he said.

Baseball lifer David Vince never quits hustling 07/09/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2008 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Orioles, with Cobb on hill, Beckham in lineup


    UPDATE, 3:46: After sitting out Thursday in recovering from extraction of a tooth, former Rays SS Tim Beckham is in the Orioles lineup tonight for his first game against his ex-mates, batting leadoff and playing short.

  2. Bucs defensive end Chris Baker (90) is seen during training camp last month at One Buc Place. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs' defensive attributes in opener included flexibility


    TAMPA — It's a blink-and-you-miss-it nuance, but in Sunday's opener against Chicago, on their very first defensive snap, the Bucs lined up in a 3-4 defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter shakes hands with cornerback Brent Grimes (24) before an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  4. Bucs-Vikings: What if O.J. Howard and Dalvin Cook had both been taken?


    So what if the Bucs had taken neither O.J. Howard nor Dalvin Cook with the 19th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft?

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) makes a reception as Chicago Bears free safety Eddie Jackson (39) tackles him Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Wish the Bucs had taken Dalvin Cook? Read this


    It will happen sometime Sunday afternoon.

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) carries the ball in the second quarter Monday night, Sept. 11, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.  (Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)