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. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    The Rays are looking to keep rolling when they make a quick turnaround after Friday's win over the Twins and are back on the field for a matinee today, 2:10 first pitch Tampa Bay time.

    RHP Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays, coming off a good but not great start against the Angels, though buoyed …

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule


    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]