MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In April, Red Berry’s Baseball World was in full swing. Children played in the fields as the program celebrated its 46th year in West Kendall teaching children America’s pastime.
Just four months later, Red Berry’s field of dreams has fallen silent. The clay swallowed up by grass and vines are taking over the batting cages.
“I’m going through a big time adjustment. I can’t sleep at night.” Berry told CBS4’s David Sutta.
At 72-years-old, this past spring Berry decided it was time to retire. Berry, who coached at the collegiate and major league levels, spent much of his lifetime here hoping to change lives.
“This was field of dreams for many, many kids,” Berry said. “And their children, generations going back to my first camp started in 1965.”
He prided himself on teaching the game and having fun. When he decided to retire, he felt good because he had a buyer lined up to keep this dream alive. All of it though fell apart at the 11th hour.
“The buyer bailed out,” Berry said. “By that time I had closed my leagues. We were out of business.”
Suddenly everything he worked for vanished.
“This is the first time in 46 years that I haven’t had a summer camp for 10 weeks,” Berry explained.
He spends a few hours each day at the park fielding questions from parents asking when are they going to reopen. Berry said he only has one more pitch to make here….to an investor.
“I’d love to see a baseball man come in and purchase the property try to follow the philosophy that Red Berry’s had for all these years where any kid could play and wouldn’t have to worry about being cut off a team,” Berry said.
He’s brought in a commercial realtor, a former player, to find some relief. Larry Gautier is trying to find someone to keep the dream alive.
“We would be remiss if we didn’t do everything we could to find some individuals, students of his, disciples if you will, could be players, that are now parents, grandparents, have their grandkids or kids here,” Gautier said. “But to have some folks basically share those guiding principles of good sportsmanship, and apply that legacy.”
So far Berry has had some interest, but they are hoping getting the word out will help generate even more. Gautier believes it would be incredibly sad if the facility disappears.
“If this goes away, it could turn into more concrete, apartments, schools, all good things. But at the end of the day as everyone knows there is a shortage of facilities for training, for practices, for kids,” Gautier explained.
Berry said he’ll sell to those who keep the program going, but he’d rather strike out than see the fields paved over.
“Nah. Even if they name the street Red Berry Street or Red Dog’s way I wouldn’t be. Heck the ashes of my first dog homer are spread on this field on the grass,” Berry said.
For more information on Red Berry’s Baseball World facility you can contact Larry Gautier at 305-397-6916 or firstname.lastname@example.org