Baseball: Inaugural Beets Classic to honor former Ridgewood icon

Larry Beets is an iconic baseball coach who has left an indelible mark on Pasco County, so much so that he now has a tournament named after him. 

The Beets Classic, a fall baseball tournament hosted by Florida Prospect that features teams from Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties, makes its debut today. 

The tournament is special, not just for who it honors but also who it benefits. Donations will go directly to the charity that each team chooses (the winner gets 30 percent while the rest of the proceeds are split among the other teams). .

Games are being held at Wendall Krinn (formerly Ridgewood) and Pasco-Hernando State College, the two places where Beets spent the bulk of his career as a head coach or assistant. 

Beets’ high school coaching career included stops at Gulf (1979-81) and Hudson (1982-83) before coming to Ridgewood to start the baseball program in 1984. 

He was the only coach the Rams had known for 28 years before retiring in 2011 after he was not granted an extension in the Deferred Retirement Option Program. 

By staying for so long, Beets became an institution. In 2007, Ridgewood hosted Larry Beets Bobblehead Night, where a handful of bobbleheads of the popular coach were auctioned off. The Rams field is named after him. 

The coaching highlight came in 2002, when his Rams upset Dunedin, which was 32-0 and ranked No. 2 in the country, in the state semifinals. Beets finished his high school career with 565 wins. 

Beets spent the past decade as an assistant at Pasco Hernando State College. He continues to help with the program. 

The teams

Here are the participating teams along with the charity each selected

Academy at the Lakes: Paul H. Hagenau Scholarship Fund

East Lake: Oldsmar Cares Foundation

Fivay: Volunteer Way

Hernando: Aripeka Baptist Church Benevolence Fund.

Hudson: World Wildlife Fund

Land O’ Lakes: Ronald McDonald House

Mitchell: Emily Rose Bromberg Foundation

River Ridge: Special Olympics Pasco

Hernando: Aripeka Baptist Church Benevolence Fund.

The schedule


River Ridge vs. Mitchell (Beets Field), 5

Hernando at Land O’ Lakes, 6

Hudson at East Lake, 6:30

Academy at the Lakes vs. Fivay (Beets Field), 7:30


Fivay vs. Land O’ Lakes (WREC Park), 10 a.m.

Mitchell vs. East Lake (Beets Field), noon

River Ridge vs. Hudson (WREC Park), 12:30

Hernando vs. Academy at the Lakes (Beets Field), 2:30


Fivay vs. Hernando (WREC Park), noon

Mitchell vs. Hudson (Beets Field), noon

East Lake vs. River Ridge (WREC Park), 2:30

Academy at the Lakes vs. Land O’ Lakes (Beets Field), 2:30


Pool A winner vs. Pool B winner (Beets Field), 6