Stillwater News Press

High School Sports

July 1, 2014

Sad ending to Stillwater baseball staple

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Brad Holt Memorial Baseball Tournament, held annually around the Fourth of July, is a memory from the past.

The tournament was initially sponsored by Hanner-Sharp American Legion Post 129, beginning in 1967. It was renamed in December, 1991, in memory of my son Brad Holt, a former Stillwater High and Stillwater American Legion baseball player, who died in an automobile accident July 4, 1991.

Hanner-Sharp Post 129 hosted the tournament since 1967 and Legion officials worked numerous hours during the tourney. When American Legion baseball wasn’t held a year ago, the Stillwater Dugout Club hosted the tourney.

Proceeds from the sale of tournament T-shirts and programs, along with program advertisements, helped sponsor the Brad Holt Memorial Scholarships. In the past, two $1,000 scholarships were presented to SHS student-athletes.

“In March, we asked for confirmation one way or another about the tourney being held this summer and since we never heard back we made the decision to present one scholarship this spring instead of two,” said Becky Holt, Brad’s mother.

The Holts are grateful to Hanner-Sharp Post 129 for the tournament bearing their son’s name and look back on the tournament with nothing but fond memories of the teams, coaches, umpires, fans, Legion officials, media members and family members who all contributed to the tournament’s success.

“We would like to say a special thank you to the many businesses that advertised in our program, designed and printed the T-shirts or donated items to be given away at the tournament.  Without them, two scholarships would not have been possible,” added Becky.

From the start, we wanted to make the tournament special for everyone. The program featured thumbnail sketches of all the Stillwater players and coaches, while team photographs and rosters of each team were included. The programs also featured information on Brad with comments written by his former coaches.

We provided gift bags, which included a T-shirt and coupons from area businesses, to each coach.

In 1996, we started the First Pitch Club as we invited former players, coaches and friends of the tourney to throw out a ceremonial first pitch before each Stillwater game.

And, when the final game was played American Legion officials would present team trophies and a family member or friend would present the Most Valuable Player award.

Stillwater’s effort in last year’s tourney is an emotional memory for all of us. To see the final tournament end with Stillwater edging Ponca City in extra innings was special.

But, to see the Pioneers win with Brad’s uncle Tony Holt, cousin Alex Holt and friend Mike Brown coaching the team made it even more special.

At the end of each tournament, we were always exhausted. But, we were also left teary-eyed thinking about all the support and love we received that allowed us to endure another Fourth of July.

Ron Holt is a sports columnist for the Stillwater News Press. Holt served as sports editor for more than 30 years and currently resides in Bixby.

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