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Date of Issue: August 04, 2005

Though there is a weed problem on Birdie Tebbetts Field, Holmes Beach’s Dick Dotterwich is working hard to keep the field in good shape. Islander Photo: Kevin Cassidy
Click on image to enlarge
There was much fanfare when Birdie Tebbetts Field officially opened for use, it has remained mostly unused since then. Islander Photo: Kevin Cassidy
Click on image to enlarge

If you build it, will they come?

Those words were uttered in the hit movie "Field of Dreams," and indeed, old-time baseball legends came back from the dead to play a game of baseball on actor Kevin Costner's field of dreams. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case in Holmes Beach where Birdie Tebbetts Field sits empty and unused throughout most of the year.

Before the new Holmes Beach City Hall was built, there was a large lobbying effort to get Birdie Tebbetts Field built because it was needed for baseball players who had outgrown Little League and the field at the Anna Maria Island Community Center.

I was one of the people who attended several meetings on the subject, though I was lobbying for a regulation-size soccer field - not a baseball field. Allegedly the final plans included a way for the baseball field to be converted into a soccer field by simply having removable fencing along one side of the field. That plan obviously went on the back burner when landscaping was put in along the perimeter of the permanent outfield fence. Throw in the fact that no sod was ever laid - they opted for seeding the field and then the well water turned out to be saltwater and the result made the conversion to a soccer field nearly impossible.

Why is Birdie Tebbetts Field not being used? There are myriad answers to that question, starting with something that I pointed out during the initial planning phase. There simply aren't enough kids playing Babe Ruth/Junior League baseball on the Island.

Back when I "graduated" from the Little League field, I had friends who continued to play and moved up to the big field, but they played on a team that had players from Bradenton because there weren't enough players to field a full team. Last year, The Islander sponsored a Junior League team and fielded 10 players to start the season. It won six of its first eight games before some players started missing games, which resulted in several forfeitures before the team eventually folded.

This season, several Islanders played Junior League ball in Bradenton at G.T. Bray Park or Babe Ruth ball at Palma Sola Park, but there were not enough players to field an all-Island team.

That begs the next question: Why can't the field be used by the leagues at G.T. Bray or Palma Sola Park? According to Manatee National Little League President Tom Barrett, teams have used the field for practices on occasion, but not for games. When asked why, he stated that the lack of lights is one reason, but a bigger reason has to do with the $40 fee that Holmes Beach charges for using the field and the absence of a concession stand.

If you build it, will they come? Only if we let them.

He went on to explain that fees for using the fields at G.T. Bray are built right into player registration and parents and coaches are reluctant to pay additional fees just for the right to play on Birdie Tebbetts Field.

If you build it, will they come? Only if we let them.

Though Birdie Tebbetts Field has some weed problems due to irrigation issues, the field is being maintained. Holmes Beach hired Dick Dotterwich, whose only job is to maintain the field. Dotterwich, who has been on the job for less than a year, recently put new clay on the infield and is working hard to alleviate the irrigation and weed problems.

Dotterwich will soon have more responsibilities. Due to renovations at the Center, Holmes Beach has agreed to upgrade the field to the south of the baseball field for use as a soccer field for the season that starts this month. The city brought in fill to level the area and will extend the irrigation system and lay some sod. In previous seasons, the Center's soccer games were mostly played on weeknights (in cooler temperatures) under the lights. The league will now have to schedule most or all of its games on Saturdays during daylight hours.

And so it appears, that if you build it, they will come - just with cleats and soccer balls.

Basketball swish!

The Anna Maria Island Community Center held Session 2 of its summer basketball camp July 25-29. Players received instructions on shooting, passing and defense and had a lot of fun throughout the week.

All participants received medals and basketballs while kids with perfect attendance also received a basketball pin.

Awards were presented to Taylor Wilson for sportsmanship and Blake Wilson, who took home the "hot shot" award. Brandon Gengler brought home the defensive player award, while Stephanie Schenk was judged most improved player.

Congratulations to all of the players who participated in the camp.

Join Her-icane golf challenge

The Manatee High School Her-icanes girls' soccer team is hosting a fundraising golf tournament at the Bradenton Country Club at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27. For $100, you can test your golf skills at Bradenton's most challenging layout in a four-person scramble and help out the soccer program.

Players who register before the Aug. 1 deadline will receive a goody bag, cart and greens fees, a post-tourney banquet and guaranteed fun throughout the day. Also on tap are a straightest-drive contest, two closest-to-the-pin contests, a putting contest and raffles for tons of prizes. The field is limited to the first 100 golfers, so don't delay.

The Her-icanes are also looking for sponsors for the tournament. For $800, your business can purchase the Hat Trick package, which consists of a foursome for golf and the banquet, a tee or green sign on the course and a banner to be displayed at all Manatee Her-icane home soccer games. A golden goal sponsorship includes a foursome and a tee or green sign on the course for $500, or you can simply purchase a tee or green sign for the tournament for $175.

To sign up your foursome, list your four players and their phone numbers with a check written out to Manatee Girls Soccer Booster and mail it to me at 3610 York Drive, Bradenton FL 34205. For more information, call me, Her-icane Coach Cassidy, at 807-1105.

Center soccer registering now

Boys and girls ages 5-16 are encouraged to sign up now for the 2005 Anna Maria Island Community Center fall soccer season. Registration for soccer runs through Saturday, Aug. 13.

Cost for fall soccer is $45 for the first child and $40 for each additional child of the same family for Center members. Non-member fees are $60 for first child and $55 for each additional child. Players will receive a uniform, which includes a team shirt and matching socks. Each player is responsible for his/her shin guards and black shorts.

Everyone who signs up for the league will be placed on a team, but for parity of the league, players must attend the mandatory one-hour tryout listed below for their appropriate age group.

  • Ages 5-7: Aug. 15 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Ages 8-9: Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Ages 10-11: Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Ages 12-13: Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Ages 14-16: Aug. 19 at 6:30 p.m.

The Center will also host a soccer camp for new and returning players to get them geared up for the upcoming season Aug. 10 through Aug. 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Cost is $25 for members and $40 for non-members.

Coaches are also sought for the upcoming season. For more information, contact the Center's Andy Jonatzke at 778-1908.

Last chance for football

The Anna Maria Island Community Center is still accepting applications for Police Athletic League Dolphin football. Player physicals are scheduled for Aug. 6 and all players must be signed by that date.

Don't miss out on the chance to play competitive tackle football. For more information, call the Jonatzke at 778-1908.

News from the 'pits'

Debbie Rhodes of Cortez and Anna Maria's George McKay defeated Steve Doyle of Anna Maria and Gary Howcroft of Holmes Beach to capture the July 30 horseshoe competition at the Anna Maria City Hall park.

Wednesday, July 27, John Johnson of Holmes Beach and Tom Rhodes of Cortez bested Bill Bartlett of Holmes Beach and Ron Pepka of Bradenton in a playoff match after both teams had compiled a 3-0 record during match play.

Play gets under way every Wednesday and Saturday at 9 a.m. at the pits next door to Anna Maria City Hall at the corner of Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue. Warmup begins at 8:45, followed by random team selection. 

There is no fee to play and plenty of parking is available. Everyone is welcome, regardless of skill level.

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