What started in the streets of Washington Heights, NY in Upper Manhattan with stickball and continued with sand lot baseball was the bloodline that kept young Eddie Pimental from the troubles of the inner city. You see, Eddie had no father figure to look up to so baseball became his passion. Eddie attended college but did not play college ball. However, his passion for the sport continued to grow.
Years later, Eddie would move to South Florida where he met Janet, his wonderful wife. As they raised their family, Eddie’s devotion for baseball was reignited when his son, Daniel began playing t-ball. Wanting to be the father he never had, Eddie devoted countless hours to coaching his son, who has grown into quite a ball player. His older son, Nathanial, shares Eddie's love of baseball. He helps manage the team at his college while studying sports writing.
Over the years Eddie has become more than a coach. He is a personal mentor to all the kids he instructs. He has inspired his players to not only work hard at baseball but to improve their academic GPA with dreams for some of playing college ball.
Several years ago he met Juan Tejera, also a father/baseball coach. Each shared the same values of mentoring inner city kids while teaching the skills of the game.
For the past several years they joined forces working together on the team "Platinum Ballerz" in association with several colleges and junior colleges from across the country. The skills they teach, coupled with fostering the academic success of their players, has earned numerous scholarships for dozens of young men who perhaps would never have the opportunity to achieve higher education, all while continuing to live their dream of playing the very sport that kept them on the same straight path that Eddie followed.
So, what are some of the challenges that Eddie and Juan face in providing their wonderful program? Equipment and uniforms are at the top of the list.
“A bucket of 24 balls can range from $50 to $150 depending on the quality. Cost of tournaments, travel, motels and food runs about $2500 per team. Few, if any of the kids can afford to pay their own way, so the team relies on fund raisers and donations to offset some of those costs," said Eddie.
There is a reason that Clearwater, Florida is their prime destination.
"To get the kids seen by several college coaches that frequent the area as scouts," said Eddie.
Among colleges represented are Geneva and Wilson both in Pennsylvania.
Eddie told this story, “We had one very talented kid, Dwayne Cameron, whose family insisted that he join the military since they had no funding for college. Before he enlisted, we took him to Clearwater where he signed with Geneva to play ball. Another player, Andy Valdes, missed his senior year due to injury. In Clearwater, he won the All Tournament Award."
Eddie and Juan expressed another major problem, finding a field to practice and play on. Finding open time at a park is difficult. Some parks charge $200 per visit which their budget can’t handle.
Fortunately, the previous baseball coach from South Dade High, Freddy Burnside, returned at 73 years of age to rebuild the program to the powerhouse it was before he retired three years ago.
Immediately I responded, “Freddy Burnside, we went to elementary school together.”
Yes, it is the same 'Freddy' I knew as a child. The same friend that overcame a terrible accident falling over 40 feet, with another buddy, as their fort in a pine tree collapsed. For months Freddy was confined to bed in a body cast, but he made a miraculous recovery to become a successful coach mentoring hundreds of young men as Eddie and Juan do in their program. Freddy completed 44 years of coaching and now he is back for more. His career covered several high schools but he is best known to our community as he guided South Dade High School to a record of 152 wins and 58 losses in eight years. That included three District Championships and four District runner-ups. His 2014 team, despite being District runner-ups, put together a streak and won the 2014 State Title.
It is no wonder that these three men would unite on a baseball diamond where their passion for the game would enable them to touch more lives of young athletes.
Now, the Platinum Ballerz under the direction of Eddie and Juan have a field they can call home at South Dade High School while Freddy stays young and rebuilds the American game we all love.
If you don’t find Eddie at one of his several UPS Stores in the Keys, he is probably at the ball park teaching about life and coaching the game. Looking to help out? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or