Today is March 7th and I have put together all I can to align the 10 coed teams and 12 men’s teams for the Greg Fusco Memorial Softball Tourney this weekend at Wolffs Softball Haven.
As someone who has played in literally countless games of softball, from leagues to tournaments, I have a heightened sense of respect for those who run these endeavors and plan them. All of the behind the scenes stresses and trouble-shooting is insane. To the casual observer it seems like you find a place, show up, play, then go home. If only things were that simple.
In mid-January 2018 after learning of the circumstances surrounding Greg Fusco’s death, I originally spoke up on-line and decided to put on this event to benefit Greg’s family. After choosing a date (March 10th-11th weekend) that I thought would be ‘open’ and not infringe upon other associations or team’s fundraising plans, I spent the next three weeks of my time and energy trying to gain total access to a venue. Those efforts proved fruitless until I was able to utilize my connection with the owner of Wolffs Softball Haven and Bill agreed to let me use his park for my event for a small fee.
My connection with Wolffs Softball Haven began after a long hiatus from softball; from the early 1990’s (wow I sound old typing stuff like that) until the early 2000’s (that doesn’t sound much better) I didn’t really play any softball. But in 2004 I was re-introduced to the game that has become nearly an obsession for me. During those mid-2000 years (my early 30’s) I frequented Wolffs Softball Haven more and more for leagues and tournaments. Actually I met my fiancee there in the fall of 2013 (like Greg met his wife on the softball field). In September I proposed to my fiancee on a softball field after we had played our games (Greg proposed to his wife on a softball field after a game). My fiancee and I have set our wedding date for November 2018 (Greg had just gotten married in November 2017).
Similarities aside, eerie as they may be, Greg was a regular guy playing a game he enjoyed. I’ve been in contact with his mom here and there and several of his friends from softball; all of those interactions and hearing about the type of guy he was did nothing but reaffirm that this event was a good idea. What really saddens me though is that it sounds like Greg would’ve been a great guy to meet and he probably would’ve embraced such an event.
For those of you who are interested in what I am talking about, go to Google.com and use these search terms: Greg Fusco Softball Florida. There will be a slew of articles about the incident that occurred and his impact in the softball community for Florida (see the Greg Fusco Helmet / Facemask Rule). This doesn’t even begin to cover the ripple effects on his family and friends dealing with his absence. His teams lost a great player but those who loved him lost a tremendous person and that obviously trumps people playing a kids game.
From January until now, through this weekend and beyond, Greg Fusco will be someone I remember as long as I live. Pretty incredible to say such a thing about someone I’ve never met but this is what softball does to a person. Softball creates opportunities to connect with people we might never come into contact with and it pervades lives without us realizing it. To Taylor and Denise, I’m truly sorry for your loss. Hopefully through everyday things and softball you can heal over time. From our softball people here in St Louis and those who have spread across the map, we will try to bring awareness to what happened to Greg and put his name in their minds every time we take the mound to pitch.
I’ll step back and wish everyone a wonderful Wednesday. And for all those who play softball, please consider doing the above Google search.