The Steve “Blade” Hess Softball Ambassador Award

...and the winning Don is....

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The 3rd Annual Blade Memorial Bags and Ball Tournament and Fundraiser was another massive success. The Moose Club is a perfect venue, the field is in great shape, and there is a fence that not only keeps games interesting but now allows for a Home Run Hitting Contest. And the Bags Tournament is as big-time as any bags tournament in the region. Griff and Jon rule and the bigger the bags tournament gets, the better they will make it. Scott Covelli provides priceless insight and entertainment with the help of the Benchwarmers. I couldn’t even begin to tell you 5% of who helps and does what for whom so I won’t even try. But it is safe to say, It Takes a Don Village.

And I’m not an executive but it was time to make an executive decision. The Blade needed its own lifetime achievement award. The KTown Softball version of the Walter Payton Award. And what was Blade? He was a player, he was an advocate, he was a partier, he was a tournament player…he had perspective about the game. It was the people and the times spent with people, whether that time was spent competing together or getting loaded, that truly mattered. And softball was kind of the initial jumping-off point for the evolution of The Blade. So the best I could come up with was Softball Ambassador. A softball steward so popular that even 3 years after his passing he’s fuckin packin’ the Moose.

So who gets the first one ever? Well, that was easier than coming up with the name or finding the trophy. It was important to everyone that something was done after Blade passed…but that is not to say that just anyone could make what we’ve seen happen, happen. And yes, it is a truckload of Don’s and Donna’s making it work, and Swa was and is that action guy. And he always has been. He has played, watched, coached, umped, discussed, argued about, fundraised for, promoted, and has been synonymous with softball as long as ANYONE reading this has known him. I personally go back to the first memories of him watching Phil in the late ’70s when Swa was like 9. He’s got the whiskers and has put in the time.

Equally important to me was picking someone that has what I’d consider softball equity. If Swa asks you to do something or be somewhere for the right reason, you are gonna do what is asked of you…gladly…because you know you never need to ask him twice to help you out. And it’s the love of the game and doing right by the relationships you have forged over the past 20-50 years of our lives together that are worthy of merit. There is one guy that is in a class by himself in terms of softball equity and that is the man the award is named for. But there are some great “other options” that Blade would be proud to know are winners of The Blade Cup. Swa is a great first option and that has zero to do with him being my friend.

So now we let the debate rage. Who is next? I can name you my Top 5….maybe some other time. And that is what I hope this award continues to be. Just way more than focusing on someone’s best days as a player. Who ya played for or how many Rotary’s you won are simply part of a much much larger body of work. Blade was a better teammate than he was a player. Blade was a better partier than he was a player. Blade was a better personality than he was a player. Blade was a better friend than he was a player. And he was a damn good player. This award should reflect that type of love for the game.

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