FAIRFIELD — Phil Arons had just come off a one-run victory Saturday in the 7th annual Matt Garcia Softball Tournament. As he changed from cleats to walking shoes, the Fairfield resident reminisced about the man whose tournament bears his name.
“He was a friend of the family,” Arons said. “He was a bat boy for our All-Star team.”
This is Arons’ second year in the two-day tournament, which concludes Sunday. He took the day off work to enjoy some softball with some friends and to raise money for a good cause.
Joe Castaneda made the trip from Oakland to play with his team, the Mambo Kings. He didn’t know Garcia, but he knew the young Fairfield city councilman had been killed.
Several family members were there to watch him play, Castaneda said.
“This is a very good way to get out and be with the family,” he said. “And it’s for a good cause.”
Both reasons helped him overcome a first-game loss. “We got dragged through the field,” Casteneda said.
David Diaz heads up the tournament, which benefits the Matt Garcia Foundation. He was friends with Garcia.
The family atmosphere brings teams back year after year, Diaz said. This year, 20 competed, coming in from Sacramento to San Francisco. Nineteen teams competed in 2013.
“This is one of the best community events for bringing everyone out,” he said. “We are definitely building a good reputation.”
The first tournament was held shortly after Garcia’s death in 2008. Diaz said Garcia would be “super stoked” to see so much support in his honor.
Garcia’s mother and stepfather, Teresa and Raymond Courtemanche, were at the tournament. Both expressed gratitude for those who support the event. Like Diaz, Teresa Courtemanche sees the event as one for family to enjoy.
The tournament has two divisions, competitive and coed. Each will vie for the championship as well as the most valuable player in each group.
The MVP honor has been named for Adam “Sonny” Ward, who died in 2013. Ward was a big supporter of the tournament and also played in it, Diaz said.
A jump house, music, face painting, silent auction and raffle are part of the event, which heavily relies on volunteers.
“The Matt Garica Foundation has a really good following,” Diaz said. “The volunteers just show up and are ready to work.”
Play resumes at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at the Lambrecht Sports complex on Petersen Road in Suisun City.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.