The annual Dinner on the Diamond fundraiser for the Libby Loggers baseball team at Lee Gehring Field saw even more support than usual from the community this year, with the prime rib dinner sold out days ahead of time.
Trish Morford, who heads up fundraising for the team, said that a typical year they sell around 150 tickets, fewer with bad weather. Yet, this year the team sold about 195.
“Which is amazing. It’s just a super supportive community, and we’re excited,” she said.
Keeping the event running smoothly, about 30 players from the ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams served as waiters and staff, as well as selling raffle tickets throughout the night, she said. Parents and coaches were also present helping out around the field.
There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, from getting the food ready to mowing the grass, she said.
“It takes a lot of manpower to pull it off, but we’re lucky to have here willing to help,” she said.
And, mentioning keeping the field looking as good as it does, former player and constant support to the team Scott Foss came up, though he could not be there that night as he was at his daughter’s softball game.
Several people who aren’t directly associated with the team outside of seeing it as an important part of the community.
Nora Berry from Libby Schools found out that numbers were up this year, and volunteered to bake all 225 potatoes for the event.
“So, we washed, wrapped delivered to her, she cooked ‘em, brought ‘em back at 5 o’clock, and here we go,” Morford said.
As they do every year, the father’s of Trish Morford and her husband, team Manager Kelly Morford, supplied all the meat and smoked it as well. They also provided the corn.
John Morford, Kelly Morford’s father, said he drives to Libby every year from Miles City to help out.
“We want to support Kelly and we want to support this baseball team,” he said.
“I was on the American Legion Committee in Miles City when Kelly and his brother were playing,” he said. “It gives them something to do, it gives them a purpose and I think it’s just a grand thing.”
Trish Morford’s father, Gary Fjelstad, echoed John Morford’s willingness to give of himself to help out the cause.
“Any youth activity in the community, giving these kids the opportunity to play baseball, travel around -- I just think it’s really a good thing for them,” he said. “It’s good for the community, it brings people out for an activity to watch -- just, I think it’s a good thing for Libby.”
One attendee at the dinner, Tim Pomeroy said he came out to support the team in part because of a colleague’s son who is on the team. Yet, like many local residents, he also supports the team at games, in part just for the enjoyment of it.
“I think it’s a great evening just coming here and sitting and watching a game, and you get to know the people, and you can see the good community support of it” he said.
Pomeroy said he also enjoys the way the team brings together players from all over the area.
Anita Short said that she comes to the Legion games frequently, though she doesn’t have a family member currently on the team. Still, her son Darren used to play ball.
“And we just have always supported the kids,” she said. “I think it’s way better for them to be here playing ball than to be out on the streets.”
RJ and Danielle Masters attended the dinner to support their son, Tucker.
“It keeps ‘im out of trouble,” RJ Masters said.
“It’s active in the community, and, honestly, it’s all around a good thing,” Danielle Masters added
For Tucker Masters’ part, he said he was grateful for the support the community showed Friday and every time they show up for a game.
“It’s fun having their support, and cheering for us,” he said.
As he listed off the many people who made the dinner a success either through volunteering or donations, Kelly Morford thanked the attendees and the community at large for supporting the team.
“I know from the players’ perspective, they really appreciate your guys’ support, not only tonight, but throughout the season,” he said.
When the team travels, they don’t see the same community atmosphere around other teams that Libby has, Morford said.
“We have the best ballpark in the world, and we have a great program,” he said.
On June 21-24, when 11 teams play in the Big Bucks Tournament in Libby, the Loggers will be proud to host them and bring that kind of tournament to the community.
“But we can only do that because of you guys’ support, which allows us to make this such a great place to play,” he said.