Innisfail baseball fans had plenty to cheer about during the finals of the second annual Dallas Yarbrough Memorial Tournament this weekend.
Four local teams played in tournament final games on Sunday: the Innisfail Indians alumni lost 9-5 in the “B” division baseball final to the Beiseker Canadians after surrendering seven runs in the 7th inning; Red Deer’s Spare Change beat Smashbox 24-3 in the “B” division slo-pitch final; and the Wolfpack rode two five-run innings to a 13-5 win over the Hellrazors in an all-Innisfail affair in the “A” division slo-pitch final. Calgary’s Dust Devils, who lost to the Calgary Diamondbacks in last year’s “A” division baseball final, took the title this year with a 9-8 win over the Provost Combine Pilots.
The tournament is named after former Innisfail Indians pitcher Dallas Yarbrough, who passed away following a car accident in the mid-2000s. A total of 14 slo-pitch teams and six baseball teams took part, Desmond Bouteiller, one of the tournament’s organizers, said.
Bouteiller said organizers were a little concerned about the cold, wet weather that was in the area for the start of the weekend, but conditions quickly improved.
“Everything came together as soon as the sun came out,” he said. “It was a great turnout for the whole thing.”
This year’s tournament featured two teams with strong connections to Dallas. Many of the Indians alumni had played alongside Yarbrough, and the Living Legends slo-pitch team featured members of Dallas’ family, as well as friends and former teammates.
Bouteiller said reuniting the Indians alumni for the first time in years was an incredible experience.
“Their first game Saturday was probably the coldest game all weekend, and I didn’t see a player without a big smile on their face the whole time,” he said.
“They played well,” Bouteiller’s brother and fellow organizer, Steven, added. “I think they were happy with what they had.”
Steven also thanked the umpiring duo of Paul Bergeron and Dennis Dancey for calling every baseball game.
Desmond said a portion of the proceeds from the tournament would go towards sending two minor ball players to the Warcott baseball camp this winter. A third player will also attend the camp thanks to the Hellrazors, who donated all their winnings from the tournament.
Dallas’ younger brother, Dale, said having the town’s support behind the family was priceless. Playing in the tournament meant the family enjoyed a different experience from last year’s inaugural tournament, he added.
“To have everybody here that had an influence with Dallas makes it better,” Dale said. “I think Dallas would be very pleased with what’s going on and how we are. We’re all having fun. It’s not about winning – it’s about being together.”
Having the Indians alumni team in the tournament was huge, Bouteiller said.
“It’s been a long time since they’ve been together,” he explained. “We learned a lot from last year and we hope to get better next year and every other year.”
Said it wouldn’t be a tournament without playing Beiseker.
“It’s always been a huge rivalry.”
“We played in it last year and we knew it was too much,” he said. “Guys’ heads weren’t actually into playing ball. It was better this way.”
DREW OR DALE
“This town just gave us everything that we could ever be. It’s made us who we are.”
“To have the town behind us is priceless.”
Said this experience felt different.
“We had more fun. Everybody’s here – more family. There’s a totally different vibe.”
“It’s not just about us. It’s about being here as family, and having good times.”
The Living Legends featured members of the Yarbrough family, former teammates, and players from Calgary, Wetaskawin.”
Said there were some plays he felt his late brother had some influence in.
“We had one player run into the fence and he didn’t stop,” he said. “In his mind, he heard Dallas say, ‘Go, go, go!’”
Dale said his older brother
“He’d be happy,” Yarbrough said, his voice choked with emotion. “He’d be cheering us on.”