First Annual ALS Skipper Tournament, banner donated by Signworks. Photos by Paula Kane

Applesauce, a young female English bulldog, enjoys the sunny day as much as any of her human compatriots; she watched with her girl, Jyssica Boudreault, who was cheering for second baseman Cory Boyker and his team, the Alcoballics. Photo by Paula Kane

And the pitch…. photo by Paula Kane

Winning team: 207 Green Thumbs of Farmington. Submitted photo

REGION — It was a frosty morning at French Falls Park in Jay when the first two teams took the field at 8 a.m., to begin play in the First Annual ALS Skipper Tournament. The one-pitch double elimination tournament was organized by Boyd “Bub” Ladd II of Farmington in honor of his father, Boyd “Skipper” Ladd, originally of Vienna, now of Farmington, who was recently diagnosed with ALS, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Five teams competed in this one-pitch, seven inning games, and double elimination tournament. Taking home the 2020 first place trophy was 207 Green Thumbs of Farmington. Ladd presented the trophy during closing ceremonies. The team was also awarded a wooden bat donated by Quinn Wood Bat Company of Skowhegan.

Steve’s Market of Wilton earned the Runner Up trophy. Marvin’s Auto Body, Farmington placed third, followed by Alcoballics, Farmington; then OPP, Farmington. The Sportsmanship Trophy, the winner of which was voted by all the teams, was awarded to Alcoballics. Trophies were donated by The Awards Shoppe of Farmington. Additionally, the large banner boasting the name of the tournament and displayed on the backstop was donated by Signworks, on the Farmington Falls Road, Farmington.

Other donations for the day’s event were from Hannaford and Food City along with personal contributions of time and funds from countless individuals.

Following the presentation of awards, Jonah Mitchell, close family friend, offered closing remarks. Speaking of the many contributions Skip has made to local athletics over the years, particularly softball. Skip is especially well-known for his work as both softball umpire and soccer referee throughout Western Maine. Mitchell concluded by thanking all those present for coming together in support of this event.

This newly-organized tournament replaces a previous event which ran for 15 years under the direction of Jeff Harris. The Big El Tournament was named for Harris’s father, Elwood Harris, who passed away at the age of 52 from kidney disease. Proceeds from this fundraiser went to Fresenius Kidney Care Umbagog Dialysis Center, Wilton. Jeff’s wife, Rolene, always delivered the donations personally to a patient in need of assistance.

The last Big El (so-named because Elwood was “built like the Hulk”) Tournament was held two years ago, Harris explained. Since then, he has been looking for someone to take over a similar event. There was no tournament in 2019.

“This year,” Harris said in an interview between games, “I’m umping for Bub…he’s always supported me (in the Big El Tournament). Now it’s my turn to give back.”

“What goes around, comes around, I want to help support those who’ve supported me,” he stated, “And this community has always been very supportive.”

Harris concluded, “It’s not about the money. It’s the thought and care of everybody that comes to help.”

In addition to Jeff Harris, three other umpires donated time behind the plate – Louis Webster, Bruce Webster, and Lonnie Knight.

Other volunteers throughout the day-long event included Josh Albee, who dragged the field with his four-wheeler in the morning before play commenced. Kirsten Gordon served as the “Supervisor” in the concessions tent, keeping her cook, Bub, on task and acting as an all ’round volunteer. Kaitlyn Ladd, Skip’s granddaughter, and Cassie Redlevske were also at work in concessions.

Jonah Mitchell was also to be found here, there, and everywhere, assisting in whatever way needed. Many, many others, who go unnamed, helped out behind the scenes with the multitude of details required to make an event such as this the great success which it turned out to be.

This year, funds from the Skipper Tournament will be used to assist Skip with expenses related to his continuing care. His wife, Elayne, is staying at Fisher House Boston, located adjacent to the hospital. The mission of Fisher House is “to ease the burden of our Veterans and their families during illness or injury. To serve those who have served… to provide a home away from home where military families can stay while a loved one is receiving in-house treatment at any of our world-renowned medical centers…”

Elayne reports, “Skip is currently healing (from surgeries) at the West Roxbury VA Medical Center with the hope of returning home soon. Tell everyone he is so thankful for all they have done,” she requested, then concluded, “And glory to God for all…”

With the encouragement of having five local teams participate this year, Bub and Jeff Harris agree that as the ALS Skipper Tournament continues, that number will grow and grow. Harris has shared with Bub the contact information for all the teams in the Big El tourneys from years past. As word gets around, they are certain that this tournament will “get bigger and better”, becoming a source of support to others who have been stricken with this incurable disease.

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