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A History of Oldsmar Little League

- Jerry Beverland

Sing along with me; "Take me out to the ball game, buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don't care if I ever get back,...." Does that bring back some pleasant memories?

Remember back to the good old summer days of yesteryear when you would hear the umpire holler out, "PLAY BALL"?

Those were the days when we watched our heroes of summer. Guys like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Stan "The Man" Musial, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Roger Maris, Satchel Paige and, of course, Mickey Mantle.

Today there are more major league baseball teams then there were fifty years ago which means there are many more professional ball players today than there were fifty years ago.

Many of today's young professional baseball players got their early training in some little league team in home town America. Over the years little league teams have grown into the thousands. Almost every city in America has some sort of baseball organization to satisfy a young kids desire to play baseball whether the kid is a boy or a girl.

I played baseball for the Largo High School team when I was a teenager. Before I played on the school team I played "Sand Lot" baseball and I do mean a lot of sand. There were no little league teams when I was a kid. But I wouldn't give up anything for the memories of those "Sand Lot" days.

We moved to Oldsmar in the fall of 1967 and in the spring of 1968 my Beautiful Wife surprised me with a new obligation, one that I had never had before. I remember that day well.

I was managing a Winn Dixie near Largo at the time and when I got home that night I was tired and for some unknown reason also frustrated. While we were eating supper my sweetheart gave me a cute smile and said, "By the way, you are the new manager of the Dodgers.

My reply was, "HUH? What are the Dodgers?" "A little league team" was her nonchalant answer."

Again, all I could utter was a surprised, "HUH?" Earlier that day my sweetheart had met with a small group of ladies that were involved with the Oldsmar Little League.During their discussions she learned that there were not enough men to manage, so she volunteered my services.

My wife and the Dodgers were the catalyst that got me involved in all aspects of the city of Oldsmar. She also spent four years on the Dodgers bench as our score keeper. To some of our players, she was also a surrogate mom.

In 1968 there were only four little league teams in Oldsmar and just hardly enough boys in town to field each team. In fact, I had to go to Safety Harbor to pick up two of my players.

It was an incredible adventure managing those little guys on the Dodger team. One day I sent my youngest son Shawn, who was six or seven at the time, to take right field. Shawn got as far as second base and stopped with a confused look on his face. He slowly turned and asked, "Where is right field?"

I had the honor of managing all three of my sons on that wonderful team. Two of my sons were legally blind, one was Shawn. The other was Robyn who we lost eight years ago. No one can ever take those precious memories away. I had three coaches who turned out to be great friends; Coy Lee, Bo West and Jim Wyandt. The four little league teams were; Colts (who always won the trophies) Cardinals, Shamrocks and, of course, the Dodgers. After four years of managing the Dodgers, I became the Little League president for two years.

Our only baseball field was located in what is now known as R.E. Olds Park. The only remnant of those wonderful baseball days in the late 1960s and early 1970s is the baseball back stop which still stands. The two dugout areas and the bleachers are long gone and only a memory for just a few.

In 1994, the city of Oldsmar built the city's fabulous baseball complex at Canal Park. In 1998, the Little League and the city of Oldsmar dedicated that beautiful baseball playing field as "The Robyn Beverland Baseball Complex" in memory of our son Robyn. Robyn was almost totally blind when he played little league on the Dodger's team in 1968. He played four years and always tried his best, he never hit the ball but, more importantly Robyn never gave up.

The history of the little league in Oldsmar would not be complete without telling the story of the man that started it all in 1960. Charlie Fadeley was an Oldsmar resident who worked for Florida Power . Charlie was a lover of baseball but, more important he wanted a place for kids to have fun and learn the game of baseball. Charlie persuaded some of the men in Oldsmar to help him organized little league teams for the boys in Oldsmar. His efforts were successful and his dream came true.

Charlie Fadeley, thank you for your vision, one that has given thousands of girls and boys a chance of realizing their dreams of playing baseball or softball in our great city of Oldsmar. If you haven't noticed the bronze monument and plaque in R.E. Olds Park near the corner of Chestnut Street and Shore Drive West go read it one day and thank Charlie.

Please check out the History OLL tab for a recently published story on some of the history of Oldsmar Little League written by Jerry Beverland, former mayor and also former President of OLL..

We would like to thank Oldsmar Community News for publishing this story. This story means so much to Oldsmar Little League and it's History, and Future! Please Visit them at:  http://www.utbchamber.com



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