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Play ball!

After losing 8-year old son, family organizes annual baseball tournament in his honor

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - From left, Mike Hughes, Lanai and Greg Wolfe pose next to a plaque honoring their son, Erik, at Fields Bridge Park. In 2009, the Hughes and Wolfe families came together to start the Erik Wolfe Memorial Baseball Tournament, which has raised more than $44,500 for Randall Children's Hospital. Six years ago, when Greg and Lanai Wolfe were brainstorming about how to honor the memory of their son Erik, one thing was certain: It had to involve baseball.

Erik was born on July 4, 1999, and diagnosed with a congenital lymphatic system disorder. Though his disease kept him from being able to take the field, baseball was Erik’s passion, and some of the Wolfe family’s fondest memories are of Erik hanging out at the baseball field while his older brother competed in summer tournaments.

Erik passed away in 2007 at the age of 8, and in the face of their personal tragedy, the Wolfe family nonetheless strove to find a way to memorialize their son while also helping other families who faced similar health crises.

Thus, with the help of fellow West Linn residents Mike and Jodi Hughes, as well as their sons Kyle and Ryan Hughes, Greg and Lanai Wolfe founded the Erik Wolfe Memorial Baseball Tournament in 2009. The tournament, which was held at Fields Bridge Park this past summer in June, attracts as many as 30 teams from all around the Northwest and has raised more than $44,500 for Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel.

“The money goes to families who don’t really have a support system around them,” Greg Wolfe said. “It’s a great community effort to help people in those situations. We have a lot of great memories of Erik on the baseball field.”

SUBMITTED PHOTO - While he never played himself, Erik Wolfe loved baseball and is remembered for his infectious smile - especially while watching his brother play.

“It’s just a beautiful way to celebrate life and remember Erik,” Lanai Wolfe added. “It brings a lot of people together.”

The Wolfe family credits Mike Hughes — a baseball coach with longstanding ties to the West Linn Baseball Association — with the idea of starting the tournament.

“We wanted to do something for Erik,” Hughes said. “He never played, but he was always watching his brother at the ballpark. ... (The tournament) was a way to honor him and at the same time raise money in his memory.”

Hughes said the event has become “our biggest tournament” over the years, and attracts teams not only from Oregon and Washington but also as far as Idaho and Montana. Each team is guaranteed a minimum of four games, and Hughes said the focus is on sportsmanship and community building as opposed to intense competition.

And the community response has been overwhelming.

“People have just walked up who have nothing to do with baseball and handed a check to me,” Hughes said. “It’s a great cause.”

The Hughes family also donated a flagpole and plaque in Erik’s honor, which can be found adjacent to the ball fields at Fields Bridge Park.

“This flag and all that it stands for is dedicated to our entire ‘Community’ in loving memory of Erik Wolfe,” the plaque reads. “He inspired all of us with his vibrant soul, fighting spirit and infectious smile. Although he never played the game he always felt like he was part of the team!”

At the very top of the plaque is a simple direction:

“Play ball!”

Patrick Malee can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..