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Baseball field to be named after long-time coach

April 26, 2017
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The public is invited to a dedication ceremony Thursday, May 4, at 6 p.m., at the baseball field at Pine Island Elementary School. The field will be named after late baseball coach Andy Harley, who coached Pine Island Little League for nearly 30 years.

"When Andy started coaching, he started with his son at the T-ball level," Mike Shevlin said. "As his son moved up to the Senior Little League, so did Andy. Andy was an incredible advocate for the Little League. It was his idea that Pine Island should expand its schedule to include teams from Cape Coral and Fort Myers. He felt that playing other bigger and stronger teams would provide players with a wider scope of experience."

Richard Andrew "Andy" Harley was born Feb. 19, 1948 in Philadelphia. He always had a passion for baseball and played through college, primarily as a pitcher. He was a starting pitcher at the University of Scranton.

Article Photos

Andy Harley


On Pine Island, Harley coached the Pirates. Under his guidance, the Pirates would become a better team every year. Made up of mostly 9-year-olds, the Pirates only won nine games in their first two years with Coach Andy, giving them a record of 9-39.

"Andy always told his players to not worry about the score or the record," Shevlin said. "He stressed that Little League was about learning the fundamentals of the game of baseball and believing in yourself. He convinced them that if they learned the fundamentals now, one day they would show how good they really were. His players listened to him, and in 1994 the Pirates went 24-0. This was the first undefeated season that a team from Pine Island ever had."

The home field for the Pirates was, and still is, the baseball field located at Pine Island Elementary School.

"Back then the field was in very bad shape," Shevlin said. "There was no grass on the infield and the outfield fence was over 400 feet. Andy believed that by developing the Senior Little League program, improvements would be made to the field. As it turned out he was right. The improvements were made to the league and improvements were made to the field. The field got grass and the fence was moved closer.

"It is safe to say that without Andy Harley, the expansion of the Senior Little league and the fixing up of the field would probably not have happened."

Harley went on to coach for many years after leading the 1996 team.

"Andy was much more than a passionate coach," Carlyn Herring said. "Andy was a dedicated teacher and mentor to his players."

Dylan Geraci started playing T-ball with Harley nearly 30 years ago when he was 7 or 8 years old. He also went on to play Major League and Senior League baseball.

"What I remember the most about 'Coach', that's what we all called Andy, was that he believed in you more than you believed in yourself," he said. "You know as a kid you're insecure about a lot of things you've never done before. But Coach believed in every one of his players. As a ballplayer he believed in the 'fundamentals.' Coach would tell us, 'If you learn the fundamentals, and practiced them, you would reach your goals.' That's not just baseball advice but advice for life."

Geraci stayed in touch with 'Coach' Andy until Harley died on April 29, 2015.

"Andy was a positive male role model to many of the young men on the island and was always there for his players beyond practices and games," Herring said. "Andy had a way of getting the best out of his players because Andy had so much belief in his players. Naming this field after Andy Harley has been a long time coming and well deserved.

"It is no coincidence Coach Andy's team's experienced unprecedented success on Pine Island," Herring continued. "It is no coincidence many of Coach's former players have gone onto successful and happy lives. It is no coincidence some of Andy's players are now coaches themselves passing on what they learned to the next generation. Coach Andy's players

have self-belief because of the belief Coach Andy had in them."

"I hope everyone comes out for Andy," Shevlin said. "The dedication includes a monument and a plaque on his home field behind Pine Island Elementary School. There will be a few words spoken by his family, friends and his players."



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