SIDELINE OBSERVATIONS: More than a baseball tournament

Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 05:54 AM.

I've been covering the Justin Richards Scholarship Baseball Tournament for the past eight or 10 years.

As a baseball junkie, it's fun to spend a couple of days out of the office — soaking up what I hope will be more sunshine than rain — while enjoying the game I love.

Milestone approaches

The tournament, which ended Saturday, quietly celebrated its 19th anniversary. Nineteen consecutive years for any tournament in this day and age is an amazing accomplishment, as is keeping a scholarship going for so long.

I have watched other tournaments come and go. And I’ve seen scholarships in memory of an athlete who died too young fade a year or two after the athlete’s class graduated or family members moved on.

I can’t imagine the loss that Ronnie and Anita Richards experienced when they lost their oldest son, Justin, in a tragic accident 20 years ago. I do know that they keep Justin’s memory alive in a positive way with the annual tournament, which helps provide scholarship money to a graduating senior baseball player.

Ronnie and Anita don’t just put their stamp of approval on the tournament; they work it as well, helping get the field in shape between games and running the concession stand. Anita’s homemade ice cream is worth every penny. They sold 22 gallons of the frozen treat this year.

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