Two days after the excitement of a bunch of much-publicized and high caliber games played at Standard Bank Stadium for the Do It Stevie’s Way baseball tournament, there was another event at the Crestwood park.
This one was low-key. It was one game. There weren’t a bunch of media members there -- only me.
But it was still pretty special.
Evergreen Park High School’s baseball team hosted its second Tony Knight Night at the park. Evergreen Park played Marist on a summer-like evening on May 23 to close out the regular season for both teams.
I never met Tony Knight, who died in 2014 at age 29, but I wish I did.
Last year, I covered the opening of the Evergreen Park Athletic Association Little League season and it was a Tony Knight love-fest with people saying nice things about the man and his mother, Mary Ellen, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Tony was a former EP student who loved Evergreen Park sports and was a fixture at most sporting events ling after he graduated.
His obituary said “His smiles, dimples and laugh were unforgettable.’’
Before the Marist game, there was an announcement about why we were all there that included “He had an enthusiasm for everything that he did – we should all strive to live the way Tony did in our daily lives.’’
The idea for the game is to feed the Tony Knight School Spirit Scholarship fund. For the past two seasons, $1,000 of scholarship money was donated in Knight’s name. In 2014, Mike Rizzo earned the scholarship and this year, Moraine Valley Community College-bound Connor McKeever earned the check.
The only think to spoil what seemed like a perfect night for Knight was Marist beating the Mustangs, 13-1 in the game. I don’t think Tony would have enjoyed that.
But don’t make the RedHawks out to be the bad guys. I saw plenty of Marist fans in the stands so the money that they left at the entrance gate is helping the scholarship fund.
The Stevie’s Way Tournament finished up its fifth year of bringing in some state powers to beat each other up all in the name of making money for scholarships at Mt. Carmel in the memory of Steven Bajenski, a Caravan student who died in 2009 at age 17.
St. Rita beat Oak Park, 7-2 for the title on May 21. This tournament was so strong that Brother Rice had its 30-game winning streak snapped and finished third.
Win or lose, the money raised for Stevie’s Way and Knight’s Night are going for worthwhile causes and even though the next few weeks will be filled with postseason excitement, these two events are the perfect way to finish off the regular season.
We will be presenting a longer story in the near future but I thought it was cool that Brad and Kyle Wood – a couple of Orland Park natives who graduated from St. Laurence – made it to their respective all-conference teams.
Kyle, a senior at Purdue, made the third All Big Ten team at first base after hitting 12 home runs and driving in 37 runs. He is the first Boilermaker honored since 2012.Eight of his homers came in March.
Brad, a sophomore at Northern Illinois University, made the all-Mid-American Conference team at second base after hitting .289 with 37 runs and helped turn 31 double plays.