Dixie Hollins @ Boca Ciega
Northeast @ Clearwater
Countryside @ St. Petersburg
Dunedin @ Lennard
Palm Harbor @ East Lake
Gibbs @ Blake
Lakewood @ Spoto
Largo @ Tarpon Springs
Osceola @ Lakewood Ranch
Seminole @ Pinellas Park
AFA @ Cambridge Christian
Carrollwood Day @ Calvary Christian
Northside Christian @ Canterbury
SPC @ CCC
IRC @ Shorecrest
Keswick Christian @ Bradenton Christian
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Deron Williams took
a moment to snap a few photos of Brooklyn
teammate Jason Collins at their shootaround
He couldn't help it: The NBA's first openly
gay player was surrounded by a throng of
cameras and microphones, and at least for
the next week or so, Collins will be the face
of the Nets wherever they go.
The 7-footer was signed to a 10-day contract on Sunday. He played in a 108-102 victory over the Lakers that night, with two rebounds, five fouls and a steal in just under 11 minutes.
Before Wednesday night's game against the Trail Blazers, Collins said accepted the both the interest and scrutiny that has come with his return to the league.
"I'm back playing basketball, so of course I'm enjoying this," he said.
After Portland, the Nets visit Denver, where the attention will become even more intense. The family of slain Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard is expected to make the drive for the game Thursday night against the Nuggets.
Shepard was tortured and murdered in 1998 because he was gay. Collins wears his No. 98 jersey in Shepard's honor. He wants to keep the details of any meeting with Judy Shepard to himself.
"Obviously, it's extremely special and I'm very much looking forward to meeting them," he said. Collins wore the No. 98 with both the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards for Shepard even before coming out. The jersey wasn't yet ready for the game against the Lakers (he wore a spare jersey with his name hastily added), but he was set to wear No. 98 again against the Blazers.
"We were very touched," Judy Shepard told the New York Daily News about the jersey. "For him to make that tribute to Matt was meaningful to us."
The jersey was already the biggest seller of the day Tuesday on NBAStore.com, and the NBA said it was selling well again Wednesday. The league doesn't provide the number of jerseys sold.
For all the attention he's getting, Collins is not a distraction for the Nets, who are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, inside the playoff cutoff.
"He understands how to play the game the right way, and we saw that in L.A.," coach Jason Kidd said.
Collins publicly announced he was gay last May, and he joins several other athletes to come out, including Robbie Roberts of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, Brittney Griner of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, and NFL draft hopeful Michael Sam, a defensive end who played at Missouri.
Since coming out, Collins has become an advocate for LGBT rights. He was in Portland just last week, appearing before a group that's advocating to get a measure on the November ballot that would legalize gay marriage on Oregon.
In 2004, voters passed a measure that amended the state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Campaign organizers hope to make Oregon the first state to overturn a constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage.
Collins said for now, however, he just wants to focus on the Nets.
"There are only so many ways you can write the story or tell the story," he said, "and then it will just be about basketball."
46 Years of Service to the Tampa Bay Area
This site was created by Elisa L. Sanders.
© 2014 All Rights Reserved by The Weekly Challenger and Elisa L. Sanders.
ST. PETERSBURG — Thomas M. English, the self-proclaimed “New Father of African- American Baseball,” is intent on reviving America’s pastime.
As the coach for a new inner-city youth baseball league called the Childs Park Black Sox, English needs donations for expenses necessary for maintaining a team, specifically uniforms.
“For inner-city youth, playing a real game of baseball in a baseball uniform with real umpires is a dream come true,” he said.
Originally from Louisville, Ky., English has lived in St. Pete for 17 years and has been key in reviving Negro League baseball in a number of regions and cities around the country including South Florida, southern Indiana, Houston and San Antonio. He was also instrumental in reviving the St. Petersburg Pelicans, Tampa Black Smokers and the Zulus (in Louisville). The original St. Petersburg Pelicans initially played in the 1940s, as a part of the Florida State Negro Baseball League.
English taught himself the game of baseball and played for some independent teams. “I can strike you out!” English boasted. “I learned how to pitch through two words spoken by Satchel Paige on a documentary: ‘throw straight!’ That’s how I learned how to pitch,” he said, laughing.
Extremely knowledgeable of the game’s history, the 57 year old can dispense a number of facts about the pioneers of Negro League baseball, all the way back to John “Bud” Fowler, the first African American to play professional baseball. In February of 1998, English decided to teach the St. Pete community about Negro League baseball history in a colorful way: by painting a series of murals on various buildings along 16th Street South.
Though almost all have since been painted over by various businesses, the one that remains is of “Cyclone” Joe Williams, one of the fiercest fireballers to ever play in the Negro Leagues. When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays hosted a salute to the Negro Leagues in 1999 at Tropicana Field, they invited English to the event along with several African-American baseball greats, including Buck O’Neil. The legendary first baseman O’Neil made the trip down to 16th Street to personally view the murals.With his obvious love for the game, English hopes to pit his teams against others in various area youth baseball programs such as Wildwood, Burg, Northwest and Seminole. In order to do so, English has until Mar. 15 to get enough players and uniforms together.
“Either way I will still go on with my RNBI [Reviving Negro Baseball in Inner Cities] youth baseball program as I have been doing for 15 years,” English said, “and host games and tournaments against the teams that I recruit on my own in Childs Park, Campbell Park, Bradenton, along with recruiting youth in Tampa and Orlando.”
Though ballplayers of any age and in any era can come across obstacles, English believes they can find a way to play the game they love. In relating the hardships of the barnstorming teams of the Negro Leagues, he explained: “One team, one car.Nine players had to ride in one car. Three sat up front, three sat in the back, one sat in the luggage compartment and the other two guys had to hang onto the side of the car. And they had to change places every ten miles, despite the rain, the buckshot, the dog chasing you,” he said, and unleashed a deep belly laugh.
He noted that some of these teams resorted to passing the hat, literally, to raise money.
“They’d go to wherever to play the game then in the middle of the game they’d take their hat off and pass it around to the people. That’s how they got gas, food and got paid,” he said.
Just as those ballplayers had to do what
they could to raise money to play, English
is determined to figuratively pass the hat
himself to see that today’s
African-American youth have the chance
to participate in America’s great game.
English added that playing organized
baseball can also be helpful in keeping
kids off the streets and teaching them
responsibility and respect.
“You can sow good seeds,” he said
enthusiastically. “That’s how you develop
leaders. It’s all about educating our youth, reaching out to them and it’s a way to continue the history of African American-baseball. And the only way to continue that is through the next generation.”
Registration is going on now at Childs Park, 4300 14th Ave S., Wednesdays through Saturdays from 4:30-6 p.m. Age groups are 12 & under and 13 & older. For complete details concerning donations or participation, contact Thomas English at (727) 851-8805 or visit his site at www.negrobaseballisback.com.
To reach Frank Drouzas, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BY RONALD BLUM
AP SPORTS WRITER
TAMPA (AP) -- Derek Jeter spoke for 25 minutes, 44 seconds
and answered 26 questions about his decision to retire at the
end of this season.
He said "it's time," "the right time" and "the time is now."
Twice more he added "the time is right."
Jeter will be leaving the major leagues the way he entered:
accessible, yet opaque; approachable, but distant.
So why is Jeter retiring?
"He just said `it's time,' but he didn't really say," Yankees general
manager Brian Cashman concluded after Jeter reported to spring
training Wednesday for his 20th and final major league season.
One week earlier, the Yankees captain surprised and saddened
teammates with his announcement, revealed by posting a 15-paragraph, 644-word statement on his Facebook page, one relatively few people were aware he even had.
"You can't do this forever. I'd like to, but you can't do it forever," he said to a crowded room filled with Yankees management and players in addition to media.
Jeter, who turns 40 in June, was limited to 17 games last season, hitting .190 with one homer and seven RBIs after breaking his left ankle in the 2012 AL championship series opener. While he returned last July, he wound up on the disabled list three more times because of leg ailments caused by a lack of strength after the ankle healed.
"It wasn't fun because I wasn't playing. I think it forced me to start thinking about, well, how long do I want to do this? And that's how I came to my decision," he said. "It just became a job last year."
He sounded much like Joe DiMaggio, who left the Yankees in December 1951 saying, "when baseball is no longer fun, it's no longer a game."
Just two years ago, Jeter led the big leagues with 216 hits. And after an offseason of intensive workouts, Jeter is confident he will regain his productivity this year and be an everyday shortstop - only the fourth in big league history in the season they turned 40.
Wearing a navy Yankees pullover and shorts, and a New York cap, he spoke directly and dispassionately, much like during every interview since he first reached the major leagues in 1995. He kept his arms crossed in front of him for much of the time, resting them on a table. He flashed those famous white teeth and smiled, displaying not a trace of melancholy.
"Trying to get me to cry?" he said after one question. "I have feelings. I'm not emotionally stunted. There's feelings there, but I think I've just been pretty good at trying to hide my emotions throughout the years. I try to have the same demeanor each and every day."
He's been clear that he doesn't reveal his deepest thoughts publicly, not in the tabloid, talk-radio and Twitter-driven tumult of the Big Apple.
"I know I haven't really been as open with some of you guys as you would have liked me to be over the last 20 years, but that's by design," he said. "It doesn't mean I don't have those feelings. It's just that's the way I felt as though I'd be able to make it this long in New York."
He made the announcement on Facebook to circumvent "cut-and-paste" media, to get out his full message and to draw attention to his Turn 2 Foundation - a pun on middle infielders making double plays and on his uniform No. 2. He is a relic, the last of the single digits to wear a Yankees uniform, the last to be introduced before each at-bat by Bob Sheppard, the Yankee Stadium public address announcer from 1951-07. While Sheppard died in 2010, a recording is played when Jeter walks to home plate.
In the second half of his life, Jeter could have a future in business or even baseball management - he's earned enough to become an owner. He's been among New York's most eligible bachelors.
"There's other things I want to do. I want to have a family. That's important me," he said, without a hint of what "other things" might entail.
Jorge Posada retired after the 2011 season, and Mariano Rivera spoke in the same pavilion behind the third base stands last March and said 2013 would be his final year. Andy Pettitte departed last fall, too, leaving Jeter as the last of the Core Four who helped New York win five World Series titles.
Owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal watched Jeter from the front row, manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman in the second. Teammates, who said his decision shocked and saddened them, were in the rows after that.
Cashman called Jeter "a Secretariat, so to speak, that you can run in as many races as you can and win a lot."
"Right now it's kind of surreal and it's strange to think of the Yankees without him in the lineup. But we're not there yet," said Hal Steinbrenner, the team's managing general partner.
When he spoke with Jeter hours before the Feb. 12 announcement, he didn't lobby for a reconsideration.
"I respect when an individual makes a decision like this because I know how much time and thought they put into it. It's not my place to second guess," he said.
Jeter wouldn't put an exact date on when he made up his mind.
"I wanted to make this announcement months ago. I really did. But people - I don't want to say forced, but they advised me to take my time before I said it," he said.
He kept getting asked about his future.
"Even walking down the street," he said, "people ask because I missed last year: Are you playing this year? How much longer are you going to play? How many years to do you have? You get tired of hearing it."
He enters his 20th big league season with a .312 average, 256 homers and 1,261 RBIs. Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson already has Tweeted "for those booking early" the 2020 induction ceremony is scheduled for July 26. For Jeter, the titles mean more than the statistics. And most of all, he treasures getting to wear the pinstripes.
"The thing that means the most to me is being remembered as a Yankee, because that's what I've always wanted to be, was to be a Yankee," Jeter said. "I have to thank the Steinbrenner family that's here today and our late owner, the Boss, because they gave me an opportunity to pretty much live my dream my entire life. And the great thing with being a Yankee is you're always a Yankee. So in that sense it never ends."
AP BASEBALL WRITER
NEW YORK (AP) -- To Derek Jeter, it was just another day to get ready for spring training.
On a minor league field at the New York Yankees' complex in Florida, he took batting practice, fielded grounders and chatted with teammates. And then he drove away in his Mercedes, offering no hint that the countdown to his retirement had already begun.
Hours later, Jeter alerted the sports world:
This will be his final season.
"I know it in my heart. The 2014 season will
be my last year playing professional baseball,"
Jeter posted Wednesday in a long letter on his
"I have gotten the very most out of my life
playing baseball, and I have absolutely no
regrets," the shortstop wrote.
While it was no secret the team captain
was getting close to the end of his brilliant
career as he neared 40 - especially after
injuries wrecked him last season - Jeter'
announcement caught many by surprise.
In fact, some people wondered whether his account had been hacked. But it was quickly confirmed that one of the greatest players in the history of baseball's most storied franchise was serious.
A 13-time All-Star shortstop who led the Yankees to five World Series championships, Jeter was the last link to the powerful Yankees teams that won three straight crowns from 1998-2000. Longtime teammates Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte retired after last year.
"Derek Jeter is Mr. Yankee of his era," Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner told The Associated Press. "He was the face of one of the greatest teams ever."
Jeter was limited to 17 games last season while trying to recover from a broken left ankle sustained during the 2012 playoffs. He hit only .190 with one homer and seven RBIs.
"Last year was a tough one for me. As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle," Jeter wrote. "The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward."
"So really it was months ago when I realized that this season would likely be my last. As I came to this conclusion and shared it with my friends and family, they all told me to hold off saying anything until I was absolutely 100 percent sure," he wrote.
"And the thing is, I could not be more sure," he wrote.
His agent, Casey Close, said Jeter wanted to declare his intentions before the Yankees start spring training later this week so that his future status wouldn't be a distraction.
The Yankees open camp for pitchers and catchers on Friday. Jeter has said he's healthy and ready to go - at 39, his next birthday is in June.
"Derek called me this morning to tell me that he planned to retire following the season," Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said.
Said Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, a former Jeter teammate: "I'm excited for him. It's kind of nice to see him go out on his own terms."
Jeter is the Yankees' career hits leader with 3,316. He's ninth on the all-time list; a 200-hit season would put him in fifth place.
Jeter is a lifetime .312 hitter in 19 seasons, with 256 home runs and 1,261 RBIs. He has scored 1,876 runs, stolen 348 bases and is a five-time Gold Glove winner.
Added up, his numbers put him among the greats in Yankees history, with fans often invoking the names of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle when mentioning Jeter's legacy.
But No. 2 is defined by so much more than his numbers. His backhanded flip in the playoffs, his diving catch into the stands, his speech to close old Yankee Stadium and his home run for career hit No. 3,000.
An October presence for so many years - Jeter is a career .321 hitter in seven World Series - he also became Mr. November in 2001. His winning, 10th-inning homer came shortly after midnight in a Game 4 that began on Halloween.
Jeter was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1996, the season the Yankees won their first World Series since 1978 and re-established themselves as a major force. He was the MVP of the 2000 World Series.
"He made me a better player and a better person," longtime teammate Jorge Posada said. "I'm so proud of our friendship and I love him like a brother. Derek was a true champion."
Commissioner Bud Selig said that during his tenure, "Major League Baseball has had no finer ambassador than Derek Jeter."
A staple for so long in the Yankees' lineup, Jeter missed the first 91 games last year. He felt pain in his right quadriceps when he returned July 11 and again went on the disabled list.
Jeter came back for three games but strained his right calf. In early September, he was done for the year.
The Yankees will open the 2014 regular season on April 1 in Houston. Their final game is scheduled to be at Fenway Park, against the longtime rival Boston Red Sox.
New York's final regular-season home game is set for Sept. 25 against Baltimore. After Jeter's announcement, StubHub said the ticket demand zoomed to make that night the highest-selling game of the 2014 season. Before Wednesday, it wasn't among the top 50 in sales.
Rivera said a year in advance that he would retire, and was saluted everywhere he played last season. Jeter is sure to get a similar farewell tour.
"I wish everybody does it like that," Rivera told ESPN radio. "I think that would be the right thing for him to do."
Jeter wrote that he wants to pursue business and other interests "in addition to focusing more on my personal life and starting a family of my own."
"And I want the ability to move at my own pace, see the world and finally have a summer vacation," he said.
"But before that, I want to soak in every moment of every day this year, so I can remember it for the rest of my life. And most importantly, I want to help the Yankees reach our goal of winning another championship," he said
The Canadian Football League fined two players
Tuesday for making inappropriate comments
about openly gay NFL prospect Michael Sam.
Montreal Alouettes wide receiver Arland Bruce
and Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive tackle
Bryant Turner Jr. were penalized undisclosed
amounts on Tuesday for postings on social
media. Bruce misspelled the word "gay" in his
message, which urged Sam to "man up" and
get on his knees and "submit to God fully."
"The comments made by these players are extremely disappointing and do not represent the CFL's views or the views of the vast majority of our players," CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon said in a statement. "The CFL is supportive of openly gay athletes in professional sports and we commend the courage shown by Michael Sam."
The 36-year-old Bruce is a three-time CFL all-star and two-time Grey Cup champion who appeared in two NFL games with San Francisco in 2003. He and Turner both played college football in the United States, Bruce at Minnesota and Turner at Alabama-Birmingham.
While the CFL was condemning their words, Athlete Ally, a nonprofit organization formed in 2010 to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in sports, began to solicit online "signatures" from athletes and fans that will be presented to Sam as a show of solidarity.
Sam was the Southeastern Conference co-defensive player of the year last season at Missouri. He's projected to be a mid-round pick in April's NFL draft and, if so, would be the first openly gay player in league history.
The NFL has publicly pledged its support, but a Sports Illustrated article published after Sam's announcement anonymously quoted several general managers around the league suggesting lukewarm support for drafting an openly gay player.
"It's important for us to show the teams that might be considering him the draft that the public is ready," said Lia Parifax, a board member and co-founder of Athlete Ally. "This is about showing Michael the support from the community at large."
Parifax said more than 1,500 names had been collected as of Tuesday. Former Baltimore fullback Brendon Ayonbadejo, also a member of the board, helped start the campaign. Others who've voiced their support, Parifax said are current and former NFL players Chris Kluwe, Scott Fujita and Dante Stallworth and retired tennis star Andy Roddick.
Turner apologized in a series of tweets, calling his post "inappropriate and insensitive." The Bombers said team President Wade Miller and general manager Kyle Walters have spoken to Turner.
"It is unfortunate that Bryant made this comment through social media," it said. "Any athlete with the ability and determination has the right to succeed in their sport."
The Alouettes denounced "the regrettable comments" by Bruce.
"Our organization supports all types of diversity. Every individual is unique and free to make his or her own choices," said Jim Popp, the Alouettes' general manager and coach. He said no decision had been made on whether Bruce will remain with the team.
"As an organization, we'll discuss the matter thoroughly and decide what to do next," he said.