By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld….
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,” says team founder and Coach Dave Westberry.
After a reunion dinner, the cards will 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, Ohio. They hope to raise $40,000 to $50,000 to pay the expenses for the 40 young players and coaches who will make the trip.
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 says. “We came back to Miami and started the travel team ’85 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 that five to eight boys from the team are awarded college baseball scholarships every year. This year, five players will head off to college on scholarships — Mike Cetta will go to The Citadel, Richard Amion to Bethune Cookman, Ryan Otero to the University of Miami, Demitrious Moorer to Eastern Kentucky and Oscar Gary to 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,” Pelaez says. “He coached me in American Legion baseball and those two years playing with him, I can’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 to honor what Westberry has done for baseball in Miami-Dade County. “Just the effort he’s put into kids through the leagues is incredible,” Pelaez says. “He doesn’t do it for money, he does it for the love of the game. 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 says. “He brings out the best 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,” says Tracey Fernandez, Manny’s mom. “On senior day, when he was asked if he 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 of going to Ohio with the team. Manny meets them there and helps with coaching.
The Team Florida reunion is scheduled for June 25 at 3 p.m. at 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 the jackpot determined by the number of players participating. In the past, the jackpot has reached $500.
For more information, go to the Facebook page <Team Florida Alumni 1988-Present>.