Belmont Heights product rejuvenates program

Belmont Heights senior baseball team will play in Section IV tournament for the first time since 1979.

Published July 19, 2007

When the Section IV tournaments continue Friday in Lake Wales in the upper divisions of softball and baseball, the Belmont Heights senior baseball team will play in the tournament for the first time since 1979.

Part of Belmont Heights' success this season stems from second-year manager Sheldon McCarr. McCarr, 45, who started coaching after retiring from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of service, said coaching at the Little League he grew up with was always in his plans.

"This was my home little league," McCarr said. "I've been out there since I was 6 years old."

McCarr was born in Tampa and graduated from King High. When he retired from the Navy as a Petty Officer First Class, McCarr said he looked at Little League as a way to serve the community he grew up in and chose senior baseball to impact kids' lives at a crucial age.

"I wanted to do this to keep 15- and 16-year-olds off the street," McCarr said. "It was always in my plans to coach."

Belmont Heights' history in Little League is impressive with appearances in the World Series in 1975 and two appearances in the World Series final in 1980 and 1981, when it lost to Chinese Taipaei.

The 1980 team included major leaguer Gary Sheffield of the Detroit Tigers and former major leaguer Derek Bell.

Belmont Heights will play its first game in the Section IV tournament Friday at 7 p.m. Lake Wales also will host 10-11, major and junior baseball with play beginning Friday, and including teams from Tampa area leagues from District 13 and 25.

Also beginning this weekend is the Section VII tournament in Dunedin with upper division teams from Tampa's District 6 competing.