Home Run Derby Should Be A Delight Once Again

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The Payson Parks and Recreation Department is hosting of myriad of summer activities sure to tickle the delights of both the young and old.

Among the most eagerly anticipated is the Fifth Annual Home Run Derby, which will be held at 6 p.m., July 24 on the Rumsey II playing field.

The contest is open only to players 21 years of age and older and the cost is $75 per three-person team.

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 most derbies the women’s home run fence has been set up 200 feet from home plate.

For the men, a home run is 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 supply their own pitchers. Pitches must be underhand, with an arch of 6 to 12 feet above the ground.

Among the reasons the derby has such a rich tradition in Payson is it provides opportunities for healthy competition all the while helping support Rim Country charities.

At the conclusion of last year’s event, P&R coordinator Joe Harris said he did a survey and found out weekend warriors compete in the derby mostly because it supports local charities.

The big winner in that 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.

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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.

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

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

A year earlier, the Gracie Haught fund picked up $1,000, thanks to the two winning teams that earned $500 each for the charity.

The Gracie Lee 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.

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