When spectators arrive for a ballgame at 20325 Gator Lane, they cannot help but notice the sign reading, "Welcome to Calvin Baisley Field - Home of the Gators." The field is not named after Calvin Baisley Sr. The field is named after Calvin Baisley, the man in the flesh; the same coach that's raked the infield, chalked the baselines, and even mended the fences for the last 33 years. The school has only been open for 37 years.
Baisley interned at the school in 1979, coached JV the next year, then moved up to varsity head coach in 1984. He is very much the Alpha and Omega of Land O'Lakes baseball.
"I've invested a lot of time here," Baisley said.
The field became known as Calvin Baisley Field in 2007 during a pre-game ceremony against the Sunlake Seahawks in their first year of existence.
"I remember something weird was going on before the game. There were a lot of parents and former players around, which was not uncommon. My mom and dad were there," Baisley recalled.
However, before the starting lineups were introduced, faculty members walked what appeared to be a sheet of plywood onto the field with a sheet draped over it. When the board was revealed, it took Baisley by surprise.
It was a fitting tribute to a man that's spent more than half of his life at the school.
Though Baisley might not have the state title banners hanging on the outfield walls, his legacy is not in titles.
Baisley's legacy is in talent.
"Good kids keep me coming back. It sure isn't the money," he said.
The left field wall is a testament to Baisley's impact on Land O' Lakes baseball: 14 banners line the wall with athletes that have been drafted by MLB teams. Baisley coached 13 of those 14 players.
"I've been blessed to have good players come through here," said Baisley. "Good players make good coaches and not neccessarily the other way around."
Included in that 13-player list is recent draftee Jason Garcia, who plays for the Boston Red Sox farm team, the Lowell Spinners. Also included are Baisley's three sons: Brad (1998) - Phillies, Brian (2001) - Yankees, and Jeff (2001) - Athletics.
"Most coaches coach their sons in little league then let them go. I got to do it the other way around," said Baisley. "It was nice, it was during one of our peak times as a team."
Baisley recalls a game at the end of the 2000 regular season as one of his fondest memories.
"We were playing at Zephyrhills the year they went to states. We had split the series 1-1 and there was not a seat to be had at that game," he said.
"The whole atmosphere was unbelieveable."
The Gators went on to win the game 9-5.
"I told the kids after the game, 'to play a team like that in that environment, that's what baseball is all about,'" Baisley said.
Baisley often can be found cutting the grass, dragging the grate around the basepads—even in the Fall, when high school baseball isn't even an afterthought for most people.
"I put a lot of work into keeping the field up. The kids, too. They do whatever I ask them to do," sBaisley said.
"I'm about go get on the tractor right now."