Despite flashes of lightning, buckets of rain and even a tornado to start the weekend, players took to the field in Wellesley for the Don Green Memorial slo-pitch tournament, raising money for community projects.
“I think we’re anticipating between $7-$8,000 profit from the event to go towards the (Wellesley & District Lions Club) and the Don Green Memorial project in Wellesley,” estimated Blair Cressman, vice-president of the Wellesley & District Lions Club, noting that it could be the best year for the tournament since he became involved.
The games were slated to play out over Friday evening and most of Saturday, but with Friday’s downpours and the ominous storm-warnings threatening to interrupt play, some of the matches were postponed to the next day.
“The storm went right through (the fields) and then it stopped and it cleared up,” said Cressman. “But the fields were so saturated and there was like river running through it. So we decided to cancel both games and actually bump them onto Saturday’s schedule at the end of the tournament.”
Far from getting stuck in the mud, however, they were able to make up for lost time Saturday without missing a beat. In fact, says Cressman, the tournament might’ve even got some utility out of the lousy weather.
“I think that actually worked out very well,” said Cressman. “It made for a long Saturday for some of the teams that had to play all three of their games on Saturday. But it actually helped for food service and some of our bar consumption just because people stuck around longer on the Saturday and had more food and drink while they were waiting for their game … and the weather was just great on Saturday.”
He notes that even with the delays, they still had time on Saturday to hold a new event this year: a home run derby. Each player got ten swings of the bat from a pitcher of their choice to hit as many homeruns as possible. The winner was a tie between Branden Bisch and Ryan Doig, though they ran out of time before they could determine the outright winner with a bonus-round.
The games were all about having fun, says Cressman. And while still technically a tournament, with four divisions and 16 teams competing for ranks and prize money to boot, ask team members who actually won and what the scoreswere, and nobody remembers. Cressman doesn’t know, though all the teams simultaneously claim first place while still only midway through the competition.
“Nobody cares!” laughs Cressman. “They want to drink beer and have fun, so it’s just great because that kind of shows the community spirit.”
The prize money, too, goes by the wayside.
“Each year every single team, when they announce the winners and we have their money and we’re ready to give them their money. We say, ‘the winner is the Honey Badgers’ – I know the Honey Badgers won the B division. And the Honey Badgers say, ‘Give it back!’ So they donate the money back to the Lions Club.”
And that’s pretty much the way it goes, he said. If anybody is keeping track, there would be 12 winners (a bronze, silver and gold for each of the four divisions). But each year, “every single one of them donated their prize money back to the tournament.”
The total amount raised is still being counted up, says Cressman, but all of it cycles back into the community and local projects. This year, the majority is going towards the Habitat for Humanity project in Wellesley, which the Lions Club is supporting, while in the past has gone towards projects like the accessible park and the splash pad.
The Don Green Memorial Fund, which used to run the event before the Lions Club took over responsibility several years ago, also benefits from the tournament. The money raised from the tournament goes to the Lions Club, who then in turn provide a grant for the fund that goes towards various sports-related initiatives in the area.
Both the memorial fund and the slo-pitch tournament are named in honor of the late Don Green, a patron of the recreation activities in Wellesley. The tournament has been running for more than 30 years now, while many players have continued to come back year after year for almost as long, notes Cressman.