Chobee Dirtbags back on the field again

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
The Chobee Dirtbags pose with their trophy after playing in their first tournament in months on June 6 and 7.

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee youth travel team the Chobee Dirtbags were able to play baseball again for the first time in months on June 6 and 7.

Gov. Ron DeSantis made the decision to lift restriction on youth activities in late May, which cleared the way for the Chobee Dirtbags and other teams return to the baseball diamond.

“The kids were very excited to get back on the field,” said head coach Ruben Guerrero. “The kids were a little rusty, but after the first game they were back to normal.”

Guerrero reports that the team lost in the championship game last weekend to a team from West Palm Beach team, going 3-2 with both losses to that same Palm Beach team.

The Dirtbags are a travel baseball team that is composed of many of the same players and coaches from 2018’s 8U Okeechobee All-Stars team that went all the way to the World Series.

That All-Star team pulled off a dramatic comeback victory in the final game of the state tournament in 2018 to earn a ticket to the World Series in Lumberton, N.C.

Following that remarkable run, coach Guerrero decided to keep the squad together and see if the team could compete against other teams from all around the state of Florida. That’s how the Chobee Dirtbags came into existence.

While the term “dirtbag” might have a negative connotation in day-to-day life, in baseball terminology it’s one of the highest compliments you can give a player.

In the baseball world, a dirtbag is someone who plays the game hard and has a lot of grit, passion and fire about the game. The term was first coined for those players whose uniform would be full of dirt after every game because of how hard they were playing.

The team has been able to maintain their great play for the last two years, winning multiple championships along the way and competing head to head with teams from much bigger and wealthier cities.

Guerrero is also hoping keeping the kids active in the sport will translate to a great baseball team at Okeechobee High School once they are able to play.

“I want to make the high school baseball coach’s life easier,” Guerrero said. “When these kids get up there, we’re going to make sure they know what to do. They can do a rundown, they can do a first and third defense and they can do bunt defense really well. We practice all of that. When I was at the high school level coaching, I would think we were spending too much time teaching things that kids should already know. We’re making sure they’re ready and passionate about baseball. A big part of that is keeping the game fun for the kids.”

“We play again at the end of the month in Apopka,” continued Guerreo. “I am very proud of these kids. They battle all day.”

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