MOUNT VERNON — It was a bad break for the local community, area youth baseball and especially for one of the area’s finest volunteers.
Fortunately, for all three, it only appears to be a temporary setback.
After 23 years, the Memorial Classic, which promotes area youth baseball, was canceled this year due to Classic committee chairperson Suzy Davidson injuring her arm.
“We started this tournament for youth sports,” said Davidson, who is recovering and has high hopes for 2011. “We had a certain philosophy that we felt needed to be the key point in providing a quality tournament. It should be to have a good time, have family fun, sportsmanship and we want everyone who participated to come out feeling like a winner. We also wanted to provide something that could benefit the youth in the community.”
Without the main driving force behind the tournament, it was impossible for the others to go on.
“People don’t volunteer like they used to,” said Joe Derr, who is also on the Classic committee. “That’s everywhere from school functions to youth leagues, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, you name it. There’s just not enough volunteers. Without Suzy, it’s pretty hard to get things accomplished.”
The Memorial Tournament has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the community over the years to promote area baseball and other things as well.
“Throughout the years, we would provide dollars for projects that we have donated money to,” said Davidson. “We provided scholarships this year, even though we didn’t have a tournament.”
The people who have given help are as big a community “Who’s Who” as those organizations that have received help.
“The City Council would come out and work the concession stands,” said Derr. “Also, the Kiwanis Club, the Rotary Club — all the different clubs. The power people in the community all came out and helped. The chairman always made decent money and returned it to the community, which helped put lights up in the field, helped with local softball, and provided money to Big Brothers and Big Sisters. We’ve been giving out $500 scholarships for the last 15 years or so.”
Davidson hopes that the kids, who have played in the tournament, have gained something special.
“We’ve had a good tournament that has been competitive and has been played with good sportsmanship,” said Davidson. “I’m also very proud of the youth scholarships that we give out each year as well as the sportsmanship award that we give out.”
“Hopefully we can pick up a few more volunteers and get Suzy back,” said Derr. “Suzy has pretty much been the backbone of the tournament for 24 years. This would have been the 24th year.”
The planning for the 25th anniversary tournament, to be held in July of 2011, starts soon. Those interested in volunteering can e-mail Suzy Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (973) 261-0265.