Players Help Provide $1,350 To Gracie Haught Foundation

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The big winner in the Mazatzal Casino Home Run Derby was the Gracie Lee Haught Foundation.

Of the five teams that earned prize money, four donated to the Gracie cause.

Which meant, the foundation received $1,350 courtesy of the players and the sponsoring casino and town parks and recreation department.

"I did a survey this year as to some of the reasons why people participate in the derby," P&R recreation program coordinator Joe Harris said. "The majority of people do so because of the charity money sponsored by the casino."

Of the money the Gracie Lee Haught Foundation received, $500 came from the first-place finishing women's team of ERA Young Realty. Melodi Deaton captained the team. Also on the team were Cherry Nottingham and Marci Sanders.

Deaton won the individual title for the most home runs hit by a woman entrant.

Gracie also received $500 from captain Chad Martin's first-place finishing men's Team 286.

On the team with Martin, a former PHS football and baseball standout, were Mike Barr and Wayne Loy.

"They hit a marginal amount more than anybody," Harris said.

Martin paced the team to the victory swatting eight consecutive home runs and winning the title for the most home runs (16) hit during the derby.

The Nameless, captained by Efrain Amaya, took second among the men's teams and donated its $250 in prize money to the Payson Wrestlers' Booster Club.

Finishing third was Double Stuffed captained by Bryan Young. Its $100 in winnings went to the GLH foundation.

Among the women contenders, Team Tammy, captained by Tammy Brubacher was second and donated its $250 to the Gracie cause.

The foundation was started about four years ago following the accidental death of Gracie Lee Haught, who was then 3 years old. Her mother, Bobbie Jo, is active in the foundation.

"We do a lot of things with the money to help kids," Bobbie Jo said.

"One of our biggest projects is a safety week we sponsor at the elementary school and buy helmets for all the kids."

The fund also helps pay children's medical bills, purchase toddler and infant car seats and pay for CPR and first aid training.

"If it's anything associated with medical help and safety for children, we can usually help out," she said.

The history, rules

The derby has its origins in 2004 when town recreation coordinator Charlene Hunt and former P&R superintendent Bill Schwind schemed an idea to build interest in softball.

"We originally held it at the same time as the (major league) all-star game and its home run derby to kind of get players motivated," Hunt said. "Over the years it has undergone some changes, but the rules have remained pretty much the same."

In the 2008 derby, which was held at Rumsey II ball field, the women's home run fence was set up 200 feet from home plate.

For the men, a home run was one hit over the regulation fence about 285 feet from home plate and 10 feet high.

Also, the women hit the 11-inch softball commonly used in most recreation leagues. The men hit a 12-inch softball.

Hitters supplied their own pitchers. Pitches had be underhand, with an arch of 6 to 12 feet above the ground.

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