LETHBRIDGE – Two-and-a-half years after they were brutally slain in a highway shooting near Claresholm, the memories of Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean live on.
More than two dozen former teammates gathered Monday night for the 3rd annual TCMM memorial baseball game at Spitz Stadium.
“(They were) just dirtbags and greaseballs on the diamond,” remembered former teammate and memorial game organizer Tyson Ford. “Just loved the game for all it was worth and played it with as much heart as they had.”
It was that spirit friends, teammates and family members of the pair tried to replicate. Craswell, MacLean and Tabitha Stepple were killed in December 2011. Shayna Conway was the lone survivor of the tragedy. While the memorial game is in its third year this was the first time it featured a dedicated alumni contest, allowing those who knew them best to keep their memories alive.
“For a lot of people who maybe see the jerseys on the wall but don’t really know too much, an event like this really brings it to the forefront,” said former teammate Alex Tufts.
Craswell and MacLean both transplanted to Alberta from their Prince Edward Island homes to pursue the sport they loved. They were teammates at both the Prairie Baseball Academy and on the Lethbridge Bulls, while Craswell also suited up for the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball. All three programs help organize the annual contest and those involved believe through tragedy, the entire southern Alberta baseball community has grown tighter than ever.
“Their stories kind of live through all three programs and the talent that they demonstrated through all three programs,” said Ford. “So it’s a good way to pay tribute to them I think.”
As part of the night the Lethbridge Bulls and Vauxhall Academy Jets also played an exhibition game. All money raised goes to a scholarship fund named in honour of Craswell and MacLean.