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McQuade softball tournament by the numbers

By SCOOTER
PURSLEY
Bismarck Tribune

How does a person start to break down a softball tournament as large as the Sam McQuade Charity Softball Tournament? Well, just about everything can be broken down by numbers.
So, let’s crunch some numbers, starting with 0.57. That’s the amount of rain a storm dumped on Bismarck on Friday morning. Not enough to be a threat, just enough to act like a ladle dumping water in a sauna. That leads to 104, the estimated heat index in Bismarck this afternoon at the peak time of the tournament.
By then, some of the record 464 teams will be headed home, while others will have to find a way to beat the heat in between games. Umpire-in-Chief Mike Wolf says the number is the highest for any year without an international division. It’s the most gathered in Bismarck and Mandan for a single tournament.
Other numbers to note:
3: Tournament rainouts (1986, 2011, 2014).
7: International tournaments (Bosnia ’06; Baghdad ’07, ’08, ’09; Kosovo ’10, ’12; and Kuwait ’12.
472: Teams playing in 2010, including an international division.
15,784: Total number of teams to have played.
1.5 million: Dollars raised for charity.
Forty-Four and Counting
“They allow disabled players to play. I’ll be the disabled ump if I can’t get to 50.”
Umpire Al Ziemann of Mandan is determined to get to the half century mark for tournaments worked. Umping in the A/B Open division, Ziemann is the only umpire to have worked all 44 McQuade tournaments.
“It’s the camaraderie that keeps you coming back,” Ziemann said.
‘Family reunion’ for All Air Force Alumni team
When the guys who once played softball with Steve “Pup” Shortland get together for what amounts to a “family reunion,” it generally involves playing softball.
This week, the Washington, D.C., All Air Force Alumni team has its sights locked in on the McQuade Softball Tournament men’s Class A/B Open. The team made up of all Air Force alumni — and a couple of active-duty guys — will have a long way to come back after a 22-0 loss to Mandan Heartland Investors on Friday.
Shortland coached the All Air Force softball team for 17 years. The players on his roster this weekend all played for him before.
“It’s a reunion team of players that played for me,” said Shortland, whose team took first and second in the men’s Masters 35 in two previous McQuade appearances. “We chose to play Open because some of the younger guys wanted to be involved.”
The Air Force Alumni didn’t land in Bismarck by accident. A few years back, Shortland and his Team USA toured the area and met Jack Jones, who suggested his team try out the McQuade. After two successful runs, the team took a year off due to scheduling difficulties, then returned this year, with one goal in mind.
Seeing old friends a couple times a year is nice. But winning is the goal and the tournament has only just begun.
Four Generations
Ian Ely has more than just a passing interest in the McQuade tournament. The Century junior-to-be was a batboy for the Wounded Warrior team in 2014, but had to wait until this year to finally play.
Ely, son of Shannon McQuade-Ely, grandson of Sam McQuade Jr. and great-grandson of founder Sam McQuade Sr., finally go to take the field as part of Mandan’s Team Bang.
The team, made up of kids too young to play in Bismarck’s leagues but not Mandan, opened the tournament with an exhibition against the USA Patriots, former Wounded Warriors on Friday.
McQuade-Ely’s twin daughters played in last year’s tournament.
Wolf’s Den
Wolf’s neighbors know that when the McQuade tournament is in town, the ump’s home becomes a gathering place for visiting umpires. Umpire Brad Eiesenbeis is in his 30th year. He comes back yearly from Minnesota.
“There must be five or six campers. His neighbors block off the street,” Eisenbeis said. “Everyone gathers at Mike’s house. There must be 60 people staying there.”
That would be half the crew of 119 umpires from 16 states in town this weekend.
“I recruit year-round when I go to national events,” Wolf said. “They come here and they go tell their friends. They say you have to see it once. It sells itself.”