Last Modified: Monday, July 16, 2012 7:31 PM
In softball parlance, Southwest Louisiana hit a grand slam this past weekend.
Area residents wrapped their arms around members of the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team during their two-day tournament in Sulphur and sent them home with an unprecedented bonanza.
Through corporate donations, ticket sales, a food cookoff and even ransoms to unhandcuff home plate umpire Butch Dowies and Sulphur Mayor Chris Duncan from the ballpark’s fence, this area raised more than $202,000 for the team and its cause.
The final tally eclipsed by more than $20,000 the total the team raised during its tournament schedule last year.
‘‘It’s probably the most hospitable and generous trip we’ve ever been on,’’ team manager David Van Sleet told the American Press. ‘‘Obviously, it shows there’s a lot of patriotism, military support and just overall good kindness for people with disabilities in this area. We don’t ever expect something like this to happen.’’
But it wasn’t one-sided. During their two victories over the Bayou All-Stars, a team of former major leaguers, Olympic softball gold medalists, local athletes and politicians put together by the tournament hostess, Jennie Finch Daigle, the Wounded Warriors displayed remarkable athleticism.
Their common bond is that they are all missing an arm or leg or foot or hand — there’s two leg double amputees on the team. But you wouldn’t know it based on the Brooks Robinson-like dive and throw third baseman Saul Bosquez pulled off Saturday night. Or the self-preservation snares that pitcher Josh Wege, a double amputee, made. Or the diving catch shortstop Matt Kinsey pulled off to end the game.
Wounded Warriors? Only in the sense they suffered serious injuries in military action for our country since Sept. 11, 2001.
Wounded? Yes. Debilitated? No way.
And so the 5,700 that attended the two games at Sulphur’s McMurry Park were treated to an exhibition of perseverance, of overcoming, of unadulterated courage when one considers what the Wounded Warriors lost, what they’ve gained and what they are giving back.
The town of Sulphur also deserves a tip of the cap for giving back. The games, despite the onslaught of rain in the days leading up to the tournament, went off without a hitch, a tribute to expert planning and a battalion of volunteers.
It certainly left a favorable impression.
‘‘We’d come back for nothing, that’s how much we enjoyed staying here,’’ Van Sleet said. ‘‘It made a big impression on all the guys on our team ... We’d love to come back.’’
Consider the invitation extended. We’ll even leave the lights on.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.