HAINES CITY | Bloody battles have been won and lost on this field for decades. This is just a different kind of fight.
Dolph Howard III, who waged wars on the plot of land as a linebacker and fullback for the Oakland High School Rattlers, is now fighting to change the name of Cook Field.
“I’m talking specifically about Cook Field,” Howard bellowed to the Haines City City Commission last month.
“I find (the name) offensive. The majority of residents of Oakland find it offensive. And it appears as though this body tolerates it, accepts it, because they continue to allow this name.”
The field, originally called the Oakland Athletic Field to reflect the surrounding Oakland neighborhood, was changed to Cook Athletic Field in 1957. It sits at 915 Ave. E.
It was well-groomed and empty on a recent weekday. Bleach-white goal posts loomed over the unpainted grass and the scoreboard boasted in white letters, “Cook Athletic Field.”
WHO WAS COOK?
The minutes from that Aug. 28, 1957, special commission meeting say that the city manager at the time read a letter from “a group of civic organizations” requesting the name change. The action passed by a 5-0 vote from the commission. The Cook name honors B.C. “Booley” Cook of B.C. Cook & Sons Enterprises, a Polk County citrus company that became one of the largest in the country during the ’50s and ’60s. According to Jim Ellis of the Florida Department of Agriculture, the company operated until the 1996-97 citrus season.
Cook’s contributions to the Haines City economic climate can’t be disputed, but Howard, 66, is scrutinizing how the company made money.
The full version of this article can be found here as it was originally published on page A1 of The Ledger.