A special day for softball
BEAVERTON — There were smiles all around.
The weather was absolutely perfect.
The smell of a barbecue was in the air.
You could hear the laughter of children.
And, of course, there was softball — lots and lots of softball.
Everyone was playing, everyone was having a good time.
It's just how Gary Edwards probably would have liked it.
There was plenty of fun, softball, and reminiscing at the second-annual Gary Edwards Memorial Softball Game, held Sunday at Beaverton High School.
"I think about my dad, and this would have been his perfect day," Suzy Leisman (formerly Suzy Edwards) said during Sunday's event. "He would have loved this."
Gary Edwards, a longtime softball coach in the area, died of a heart attack back in the summer of 2015, at the age of 61.
Edwards had been a fixture in the local softball community.
His ages 10U Beaverton Blaze ASA softball team won two state titles and finished second once. He coached the Beaverton Babes ASA team from 1995-2000, finishing second at state once.
Edwards, who spent much of his adult life working in the paint business, got into high school coaching as an assistant at Tualatin, while his daughter Jenni played on the team, from 1993-1996.
He moved on to be the head coach at Sherwood High School for the 1997 season. He was the head coach at Beaverton High School from 2003-2007 and then he coached from 2008-2013 at Tigard High School.
"I really miss that big lug," said Lem Montoya, who coached along side Edwards at some of his coaching stops. "He always tried to make it special. I love coaching softball, and I could do that by myself, but, when I coached with Gary, it was just better."
Sunday's game not only was a celebration of Gary Edwards and softball, but it was also a fund-raising event for a scholarship in Edwards' name.
"This was amazing," said Josh Burnham, a 1996 Tualatin High School graduate, and a friend of the Edwards family, who played in Sunday's game. "I didn't realize the amount of people that he touched. This was so much fun, and it's for a good cause. I'll be back again next year."
"To see all of these people here, bringing their kids, it's just all surreal," Montoya said.
Last year's Gary Edwards Memorial Softball Game raised $3,000, with the funds going toward a pair of scholarships. The hope is that number will continue to grow.
"This is such a great thing," said Leisman, a 2001 Tualatin High School graduate, and a former standout pitcher for the Timberwolves. "It's really good for my kids to be a part of this. And it gets the community together. This is such a great thing, and I'd love it to get bigger every year."
The game itself, which included many of Gary Edwards' former players, featured some solid slow-pitch action, from players who launched the ball over the fence at Beaverton High School, to kids who could barely hold up the bat.
"My dad would have loved this," Leisman said with a big smile on her face. "He'd be smiling, and helping everyone. And to have this benefit a softball player, in his name, makes it more special. It was always his big thing to help."
In addition to the game itself, Sunday's fund-raising event also featured a raffle, an auction and a barbecue.
And, of course, there were plenty of stories about Edwards.
"He was a good guy, and I really miss him," said Jeff Edwards, Gary's younger brother. "He knew so much about pitching. He was so valuable when it came to coaching pitching."
And, while most pitchers would listen to him, Suzy Edwards wouldn't listen to her father.
"Suzy wouldn't listen to him for anything," Montoya said with a laugh. "So, Gary would tell me what to say, and then send me out to talk to her. It was the same thing with my daughter. I have to have Gary go out and talk to her."
If anyone wants to make a donation to the scholarship fund, they can send a check, made out to the "Gary Edwards Scholarship Fund," to Lem Montoya, at 16355 S. Abiqua Rd NE, Silverton, OR, 97381.