Former members of Team Florida/Post 43, a summer baseball travel team, will gather June 25 for a reunion and fundraiser.
“Let’s see if we can scrounge up some of the old guys and talk some baseball,” said Dave Westberry, team founder and coach.
After a reunion dinner, the cards will be brought out for a poker tournament that will help raise money for the team’s annual trek to the CABA High School World Series in Euclid, OH. They will try to raise $40,000 to $50,000 in order to take the 40 boys and coaches to the World Series.
Westberry is well known in the baseball community as someone who cares about the boys and is interested in helping them go to college.
“Baseball has been the love of my life,” he said. “We came back to Miami and in ’85 we started the travel team and we’ve been going ever since.”
Being on Team Florida is the opportunity some of the boys need to be noticed by colleges and pro scouts. Westberry estimates five to eight boys each year are award college baseball scholarships.
This year, five players will head off to college on scholarships. Mike Cetta is going to The Citadel; Richard Amion, Bethune Cookman; Ryan Otero, University of Miami; Demitrious Moorer, Eastern Kentucky, and Oscar Gary, Florida International University.
Westberry’s former players hold him in great esteem. Sunset High coach Mandy Peleaz has coached with him in past summers and still sends players to Team Florida although he has his own summer travel baseball team.
“I’ve known him all my life, Peleaz said. “He coached me in American Legion baseball. Those two years playing with him, I couldn’t put it into words. I appreciate him and what he’s done for all the kids.”
In fact, Pelaez is trying to get Westberry’s number retired at Southwest High in honor for what Westberry has done for baseball in this area.
“Just the effort he’s put into kids though leagues. He doesn’t do it for money. He does it for the love of the game,” Pelaez said. “He’s been very influential and not just in my life.”
Westberry also influenced Southridge coach Eddie Doskow’s life. Doskow continues to coach with him on Team Florida and goes to Ohio each year with the teams.
“He’s the type of coach that makes everyone feel wanted,” Doskow said. “He brings the best out in you.”
When Manny Fernandez played for Westberry, his parents became involved with the team and remain involved although Fernandez is now in his third year at West Point.
“He and my daughter both call him grandpa now,” said Tracey Fernandez, Manny’s mom. “My son, on senior day, when he was asked would you like to thank anyone special, my son said Dave Westberry.”
Ever since then, the Fernandez Family has been on board with Team Florida and this will be their seventh year going to Ohio. Manny meets them there and helps coach.
The Team Florida reunion is scheduled for June 25, 3 p.m., at the American Legion Post 43, 399 S. Krome Ave. in Homestead. After the reunion dinner, the team’s annual fundraising poker tournament will be held with a jackpot dependent on the number of players. In the past the jackpot has been $500.
For more information, go to the Facebook page for Team Florida Alumni, 1988-Present.