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Devil Rays don't let thief take kids' fun
By MICHAEL SANDLER
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2000
Instead, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher delivered cases of soft drinks, frozen hamburgers and hot dogs, and baseball equipment.
Gooden, joined by Devil Rays Manager Larry Rothschild and team representatives, directed a semitrailer truck into the parking lot off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. They dropped off supplies and delivered a check for $2,000 to help replace the estimated $5,000 in food and equipment stolen in a burglary Sunday.
A thief pried open the metal shutter where food is normally served and took nearly everything inside, including a television, frozen food, institution-size condiments, baseball gloves, baseballs and bats. Sales from the concession stand pay operating expenses for the league and help buy equipment and uniforms.
"It's sad to see," said Gooden, who as a 13-year-old player helped the Belmont All-Stars win the City-County tournament in 1978. "It's a big deal to these kids. These kids are off the street doing something they enjoy."
In addition to donating the food, the Devil Rays brought official baseball equipment used by major league players.
"Everything we have at the major league level starts with Little League," Rothschild said. "If you can't support Little League, there is something wrong."
It seems quite a few others feel the same way.
"We have people calling up from Clearwater, Lakeland," said Monty Bostick, league president and a longtime coach. Sean Collins never lived in the neighborhood but has fond memories of seventh grade at Nathan B. Young Middle School, which shares property with the league. Now Collins and his brother, Michael, own Fort Knox Security Systems in Town 'N Country. On Thursday, he installed a $700 alarm system in the concession stand, free of charge.
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