The Lethbridge Bulls hosted their eighth annual TCMM Memorial Game Wednesday night in honour of two players who were killed in 2011.
Tanner Craswell and Mitch Maclean were killed in a shooting along Highway 2 near Claresholm in December nearly eight years ago.
“They were two guys that loved playing baseball, loved coming to the yard every day,” said Bulls head coach Jesse Sawyer.
Every year, the Bulls host the memorial game and a kids camp beforehand to honour the two Prince Edward Island natives. The pair rose through the baseball ranks in Lethbridge in programs like the Vauxhall Academy, Prairie Baseball Academy and with the Bulls.
“It’s good to get everyone back to have a good night, a special night for them,” said Bulls pitching coach Luc Herbert, who knew Craswell and Maclean through the Vauxhall program.
Each of the eight memorial games at Lethbridge’s Spitz Stadium has started with empty spots on second base and at shortstop — the positions of the two young men.
Sawyer played third base in his time with the Bulls and remembers Craswell and Maclean as teammates fondly.
“Two guys that you just loved being around,” said Sawyer.
“I just remember they were always happy, always having a great time… It makes coming to the yard fun when you have teammates like that.”
Sawyer feels that it’s important to tell the story of Craswell and Maclean to each new iteration of his roster so that their legacies can live on in the Bulls’ locker room.
“We have their jerseys up. There’s pictures of those boys still in our locker room… We’re never going to forget those boys… I still wear the wrist bands. It’s great to remember those boys every year at this time,” he said.
“It’s a tragic story but a lot of good has come from it.”
While there aren’t any players left on the roster who have played with Craswell and Maclean, shortstop Nick Ankermann is well aware of the pair’s impact on the city.
“I just knew that they were big parts of this town,” said Ankermann. “For PBA and playing for the Vauxhall Academy and then coming to play with the Bulls in the summer, so they’ve always been big parts of this community.”
All proceeds from the game and the kids camp will go towards the TCMM Scholarship Fund, which supports youth baseball players in the area.