Local baseball coaching legend to retire

Posted: January 31, 2012 at 1:26 am

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SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The man behind one of South Florida's most well respected youth baseball programs is set to retire.

Red Berry, the South Florida baseball staple, has decided to retire after managing Red Berry's Baseball World for 46 years.

Berry's career began with a love of the game and a vision. "I've always ate, drank and slept baseball," he said. "I worked 25 years out of the trunk of my car, leasing facilities and traveling around like a vagabond, and I always dreamt about this. God made it come true."

That dream saw Berry coach in three college world series, helping lead the Miami Hurricanes to a national championship in 1985 as their pitching coach. "His love for the game, his love of God, the way he shares his values, the way he relates baseball to real life is special," said coach Otto Williams.

But what he considers his greatest accomplishment is the 46 years spent teaching thousands of kids and their parents about more than just hits and runs. "Family values-- it's not just baseball, it's not just winning. It's about helping the child develop how to learn how to win, how to lose, how to become friends with people and how to develop better character," said parent Todd Botner.

Players past and present have a lot to be thankful for since learning under Berry. "It changed my life completely, complete 180," said former player Manny Negrin. "He taught us about life values, how to respect by trying hard in life in general. It was great."

"He makes it fun because he talks to us, and he like, pitches to us," said player Don Darcangelo. "It's sad because I won't see him."

The great run in South Florida baseball is now coming to an end after Berry announced this season will be his last. "I'm shocked," said parent Angie Toffoli. "When I got the letter Saturday, I cried."

Many others feel the same way about Berry. "I was devastated. I've know Red since I was in high school here in Miami and his passion for baseball here," said Richard Rump. "Now I have my grandson here, and I find out he's closing the place and my grandson loves it here, and I was just totally devastated."

Parents broke the news to their young baseball players that Baseball World would be no more. "He cried for two hours," said parent Janette Rizo. "And he went back to coach Berry to ask him why, and then he told this is the best place to play baseball."

There's no doubt about it, Red Berry's retirement will leave a void in South Florida youth baseball. "It's time to move on and see what the Lord has for me," said Berry. "I'm real proud of the generation of youngsters, the many generations that have come through Baseball World, and they've made me better too. I'm still throwing 12 innings a week. That's not bad for a 39-year-old guy."

Berry's last day will be March 31. Red Berry's Baseball World property will be sold to the church next door to be turned into a youth center.

(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Local baseball coaching legend to retire

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January 31st, 2012 at 1:26 am

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