One of the biggest blessings for society is when a positive legacy builds, and people join in to support the legacy — and people smile and are happy about it, and they become better for nurturing that legacy.
So it is with the Edwin A. Keach Wiffle Ball Tournament.
This past Saturday, at the beautiful baseball fields at Militia Park, the 8th Annual Edwin A. Keach Wiffle Ball Tournament was held.
This year had more teams and more people participate than ever before.
So, yes, the legacy builds — and the legacy is actually two-fold: first, the most important legacy — and that is the legacy and memory of Edwin Keach — a great kid, a beautiful spirit, and the giver of energy that is always with those who loved him and cared about him – and also for those who missed knowing him, but who listen and learn about him.
Then there is the legacy of the event itself — and the community of good spirit and good will it recruits, fosters and sustains.
Most people reading this know the story of Edwin Keach and the Keach family.
For those who don’t — it is important you know the story.
Edwin Keach, a 2001 graduate, died far too young, at 21 years old, in a single-person auto accident four days before Christmas 2003. Edwin, a student at Northeastern University, was driving his truck in the early morning hours, and was only about a mile from his family’s home in Easton, when the truck hit tires that had been left in the street as a prank.
Those who had left the tires in the road, four teenagers, turned themselves in to the police.
The Keach family did not have to — but it did — went beyond standout, honorable, forgiving and beneficent when it advocated to authorities for leniency in sentencing the four.
All four received probation.
The Keach family received mountains of respect and admiration.
Edwin’s friends needed to remember their friend — and they needed to do it in an appropriate manner. A great way to do this was … well … here is an excerpt from the :
Edwin Keach loved Wiffle Ball. It was his favorite bit of recreation, one which he played hours and hours with his buddies. Edwin not only loved Wiffle Ball – but he was very good at it. Few could smack the Wiffle Ball like him. He was the “Sultan of Swat” of Wiffle Ball.
Three of Edwin’s closest compadres, fellow Wiffle Ball enthusiasts, and OA classmates of his
– Will Glynn, Ben Kligler and Nick Ventresco – went about creating a Wiffle Ball tournament in their friend’s memory.
The Edwin A. Keach Memorial Wiffle Ball Tournament was born.
So this year there were a total of 72 teams (up from the 66 of last year) and about 300 people participating in the games. There was also a team of volunteers – some of whom played in the games – who helped run the event.
Teams came nearby and from New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
There were many individual and corporate sponsors.
“We are thrilled, so thrilled – and so thankful – for the turnout and all those who contribute to the event,” said Arlene Keach, mother of Edwin Keach. “Edwin is remembered, and he is with us – and everyone is smiling and laughing and having fun. And, of course, money is being raised for good causes.”
There were winners and prizes – yet in many ways this is not really the purpose of the day.
Then again, and Edwin Keach would appreciate this – these Wiffle Ball players get their competitiveness going.
Yes, sure, the day is for Edwin – but if you are going to play you might as well play to win.
Again, Edwin would be good with all this.
“We had two divisions in the tourney – a Cavalier Division and a Contender Division,” said Nick Ventresco. “The Cavalier Division had five pools with 22 teams, and the Contender Division had 12 pools with 50 teams.”
“Scared Hitless” won the Cavalier Division and “The Real Big Three” took the Contender Division title.
“Both Scared Hitless and The Real Big Three are among what I call our ‘perennials,’” said Ventresco. “These are teams that have been at our tourney throughout its history and always bring the good spirit.”
Making up the Scared Hitless squad were team captain Rob Christensen (OA ‘2000), and Chris Alonso, John Englehart, Nick Robin, and Tom Joy.
The Real Big Three was comprised of three cousins: Ryan Gomes – whom Ventresco calls “one of the best ever to play in the Keach Tourney” – and Chris Marsh and Alex Marsh.
Alex Marsh also won the home run derby that is held annually as part of the Edwin A. Keach Wiffle Ball Tournament.
It was a day of fun – as it is always.
Edwin’s older siblings, Meredith, and Andy (who flew in from Utah) were of course on site and helping out.
And there was Meredith’s and her husband Sean Hennessy's adorable son, Braden John Hennessy, 2, smiling, giggling and squirting people with a squirt gun – which resulted in brief but appreciated hits of cool relief on a warm and muggy day.
The “John” in Braden John is for Meredith’s dad, John Keach, a civic fixture and leader in Easton, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 68.
“You know, there are many Wiffle Ball tournaments that are falling in participation year after year – and the Keach Tournament keeps growing,” said Bill Glynn, father of Keach Tournament co-founder Will Glynn. “This is wonderful – and it is all done right. There are kids from other towns who competed against the OA kids here in high school. And now everyone is on the same side and doing something very good and important – and having fun together.”
What Bill Glynn described is that positive legacy.
It is a legacy that grows and becomes ever stronger and ever more vibrant.
And that legacy has at its locus the life of super young man – forever smiling, tendering that Wiffle Ball bat, and making like the Sultan of Swat.