When a team loses the event, they are hurt, disappointed and sore about the setback as they stand to the side.
In the 13th Annual Brett McClendon Memorial Baseball Classic, the Blues and the Reds, both from Cleveland, showed their true colors as athletes and as youth growing into young men. After the Blues defeated the Reds 16-7 in the championship game of the 12 and Under O Zone division, players and coaches from team congratulated each other for a great tournament and the players took a picture together with smiles on their faces Sunday evening at Bear Pen Park showing their support and respect for one another.
Blue head coach Rodney Martin said the show of sportsmanship says a lot for the players.
“They both are really good groups of kids and they have really good sets of parents on both sides,” Martin said. “They’ve got a good set of coaches, and I think everybody understands what it’s all about. It’s trying to make kids better and that’s what that tournament is all about. It just shows that you can compete, and when it’s all over with it’s over with.”
Reds head coach Lynn Dalton said both teams knew when it was time to socialize and when it was time to play.
“Before the game when the Reds played, we some Blues in our dugout,” Dalton said. “When the Blues played, there were some Reds in their dugout. Before the game started, they were all palling around out on the field. When the game was over, they all got out and wrestled around on the field and had a good time. When it was time to play baseball and cross that line, they decided to play and they played hard. That was a good event.”
Even though the score turned out to be a little lopsided, the game was a competitive contest. The Blues held a slim 9-7 lead over the Reds after four innings. The Blues scored a run in the fifth and six runs in the sixth to pull away with the victory.
“It was a good game,” Martin said. “The score didn’t reflect what kind of a game it was, but it was a good game. It (the picture) just says a lot for them.”
The 12 and under O Zone Tournament was also an example of the strong showing Cleveland teams had as four city teams total won their division.
The Cleveland 8-year-old All-Stars defeated the Clarksdale All-Stars to win the boys coach pitch championship, the Cleveland Titans defeated the Delta Tide in the 10 and under open division and the Delta Heat defeated the Cardinals in the 14 and under division.
In the girls coach pitch division, the Delta Thunder from Clarksdale defeated the Cleveland Chaos, while Monroe National from Monroe, La. defeated Clarksdale in 10 and under Dixie Division.
The proceeds from the tournament went to help upgrade Bear Pen Park. According to tournament director Jim Salley, this year’s event cleared approximately $10,650. Renovations to the dugouts at the boys complex are almost complete. Funds from the McClendon as well as money from the city have gone to the upgrades.
Salley said seeing the progress was a true blessing.
“Seeing all the upgrades, everybody was real blessed with the way it looked and liked the way things are shaping up over there,” Salley added.