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)

Dominican trip unified Cambridge baseball team

Cambridge coach Rick Shears said seeing children happy despite being poor gave his players a new perspective.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times (2008)

Cambridge coach Rick Shears said seeing children happy despite being poor gave his players a new perspective.

TAMPA — Asked when Cambridge's second straight run to the state semifinals came together, sophomore third baseman Andrew Widell didn't need to think.

Widell pointed to July, when most of the Lancers took a five-day trip/mission to the Dominican Republic. The private school kids went into the heart of the country's capital, Santo Domingo, where chickens and cows grazed in the outfield and T-shirts sometimes were used as bases.

"You just saw how much those kids loved baseball," Widell said. "You would give them a diamond and a fence and they'd be happy. Our team was pretty much separated going out there, but we came back together as one. Everyone had each other's backs."

The Lancers' trip to the Dominican Republic is just one example of how they've used the team as a forum to help others.

Three times this year, at different spots in Tampa, they helped feed the homeless. Just last week, players visited bedridden children at the Shriner's Hospital. Last Christmas, they sang carols for the elderly at John Knox Village in Tampa.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, we were about a negative-2," junior pitcher Matt Fishman said. "But they loved it."

For Widell, feeding the homeless hit home as well.

"You see these people whose needs are just on a totally different level," he said. "And a lot of times, they're just looking for someone to talk to. You go home and you feel bad to throw your food away."

But team chemistry was born in the Dominican Republic. They played on the dusty field where Sammy Sosa played as a child. Little kids perched on the top of dugouts. From their bus, they witnessed living conditions unlike any they had seen. The modest dugout at their home field, Doc Nance, could house two families.

The Lancers gave away gloves and bats, receiving glowing smiles and hugs in return.

"That's what made us take off as a team because every guy on the roster has to give something to this team," said coach Rick Shears, who accompanied his players to the Dominican Republic.

Shears echoed the trip has a lot to do with the Lancers' return to state.

"You saw kids who had close to nothing," he said. "And they were laughing and smiling and having a good time. I think it got all of the complaints out of us. It made us humble. We might have complained about Doc Nance before. It's not the best field in the world. But to those kids, it would have been like playing at Yankee Stadium."

Said Fishman: "In a lot of ways, really they're teaching us. They're teaching us to be grateful for what God's given us."


State baseball semifinals

At Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie. Admission is $8 per session.

Today's games

Class A: Jacksonville Eagle's View vs. Deltona Trinity Christian, 10 a.m.; Cambridge vs. Lake Worth Trinity Christian, 5 p.m.

Class 3A: Fort Pierce John Carroll vs. Plantation American Heritage, 1 p.m.; Jacksonville Bolles vs. Ocala Trinity Catholic, 8 p.m.

On the Web: If you can't make it down to Port St. Lucie, no worries. We'll be live blogging all the games our local teams are involved in at blogs.

Dominican trip unified Cambridge baseball team 05/19/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 1:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'That's not me:' Jaguars' Dante Fowler apologizes for arrest


    Former Lakewood High and Gators star Dante Fowler, now a defensive end with the Jacksonville Jaguars, spoke Wednesday for the first time since his arrest in St. Petersburg last week, apologizing to his team and fans.

  2. Bucs' Josh Huff has DUI citation dismissed, attorney says


    Bucs receiver Josh Huff continues to resolve the legal issues that cost him a job with the Eagles last year, as the DUI citation against him was dismissed Tuesday, according to his attorney.

    Bucs receiver Josh Huff makes a first-down catch against the Saints, one of three games he played in for Tampa Bay last season.
  3. HomeTeam 100: Players 21-30


    TAMPA - Jesuit linebacker Anthony Nelson will help lead the Tigers into the 2017 season. Taken 5-17-17 by Scott Purks
  4. For starters: Cobb on the hill against Orioles



    Alex Cobb takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his performance from Friday when he was three outs away from pitching a complete game.
  5. Bucs DE Jacquies Smith (ACL) will start on active PUP list


    In the first quarter of a season opening win at Altanta last season, Jacquies Smith suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while attemping to cover a punt.

    Jacquies Smith will begin training camp on the active Physically Unable to Perform list.