When asked how he thought the inaugural Arnie Isberg Memorial 1-Pitch Softball Tournament went on Sunday, Vern Isberg struggled with an answer.
“I don’t even know how to say how it went,” Isberg said. “Honestly it was amazing the whole weekend.”
“I was absolutely shocked. There’s no better way to say it about the generosity in this community.”
Isberg’s brother Arnie died of cancer last November, so the family decided to host a slow-pitch tournament at the Surerus Ball Diamonds Aug. 25 and 26 to raise money for the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation’s Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment Fund.
With eight ball teams and members of the community coming out to take part in the tournament and donate through other avenues such as 50/50 tickets and beer gardens, Isberg and his family was blown away by the success of the fundraising event.
“It shocked me about how caring and giving the community is, the ball community as well as a lot of the sponsors and patrons who came out to support the tournament,” Isberg said. “I was absolutely shocked at the generosity of everybody. Right from our family donating all their time to make it a success, but all the ball players and the ball teams coming out to support not only the beer gardens but all the functions.”
Although there were cash prizes for the top-placing teams, Isberg was surprised again when the third-place team, Team Sumo, offered to give their prize money to the hospital foundation. Team Sumo, which is made up of Arnie Isberg’s former baseball teammates, led by example and “set off a whirlwind,” Isberg said, as the second and first-place teams soon followed suit.
“I think my favourite part was at the end of the entire tournament, we had all the prize payouts from third, second and first go back to the cancer clinic,” he said. “That was probably the biggest highlight, the absolute charity from everybody. It was amazing.”
There was also a lot of fun being shared as well, as die-hard ball players competed for two days in the sunshine, some even camping out at Surerus for the weekend. There were prizes for best costumes, which meant there were a few characters roaming the ball diamonds, dressed as pirates and other unrecognizable figures.
It all came down to the final on Sunday afternoon between Isberg’s team, the One Hit Wonders and Drunk & Disorderly, as spectators from the beer gardens watched in anticipation.
“It was a fairly close game right up until the last two innings,” Isberg said. “Both teams played excellent defence. I think we turned four double plays in our game, which I think is almost unheard of for slow pitch.”
Those double plays sent quite a few players home to put the One Hit Wonders up 10-2 over Drunk & Disorderly for the final, and how fitting for the tournament, since five of Arnie Isberg’s family members were on the winning team.
“The atmosphere out there was extraordinary,” Isberg said. “I’ve had every single one of my family members come up to me and say this was a massive success. From Arnie’s widow Janice right down to the nieces and nephews, they’re beside themselves with how well it went.”
Isberg’s original goal for the fundraiser was $3,000, but with the teams donating their prize money, he is estimating they have raised over $4,000.
With such success in the memorial tournament’s first year, Isberg is excited about the possibilities next year’s event will hold.
“I was absolutely shocked. There’s no better way to say it about the generosity in this community,” he said.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better tournament.”