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Gooden helps replace league's gear

The Devil Rays pitcher helps replace items stolen from a Tampa Little League.

By RICK DANIELSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000


TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher Dwight Gooden is scheduled to return today to the baseball diamond where he got his start, but this time he's bringing a different sort of help for the Belmont Heights Little League.

Along with representatives of the Devil Rays, Gooden will deliver gloves and baseball equipment, a television and donated food and soft drinks to restock the Little League's concession stand.

Over the weekend, a thief pried open a window and took items worth nearly $5,000.

In addition to the donated items, the Devil Rays also will give the Little League a check for $2,000, team spokesman Rick Vaughn said Wednesday.

Gooden was on a Belmont Heights team that went to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., and finished third in the nation in 1982. That group included current major leaguers Gary Sheffield and Derek Bell.

"We've got some pretty good support" from other companies as well, Vaughn said. The team's concessionaire, Volume Services, is donating food, and Pepsi will provide soft drinks.

That helps, but St. Petersburg businessman Bill Sims said he plans to ask other businesses to donate money not only to replace what was stolen, but to refurbish the entire complex.

"I want to keep this thing going, because it's not only the concession stand that needs to be replaced," said Sims, whose company contributed $500. "They need to do something about that field."

Sims said anyone wanting to contribute can call Little League parent Colette McDonald at (813) 242-6162.

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