Blue Bulls win Travis Roy title


ESSEX — A record-breaking fundraising effort, tremendous action on the field and recognition of the tournament hosts and founders highlighted the 17th annual Travis Roy Foundation WIFFLE Ball Tournament held at Little Fenway, Little Wrigley and Little Field of Dreams this past weekend.

The 32-team event brought in $617,634, as of 3 p.m. on Sunday, topping the previous high set in 2016 to lift the 17-year total to over $5.2 million. It also marked the second time in three years it's gone over the $600K mark and the fourth time in the last five years the Vermont backyard event raised over a half-million dollars.

All funds go to the Travis Roy Foundation that benefits and creates awareness for people with spinal cord injuries, and is named after the former Boston University men's hockey player who resides with his family in nearby Malletts Bay in Colchester each summer.

"The foundation has become my life and it's an amazing life, and I'm just so proud and grateful of the impact that everyone involved has had on my life," said Roy at Saturday's 'Money Count' announcement. "And it's the same for everyone that we can impact because of what we do this weekend. We are really building this foundation. There are so many stories about people that we have helped and the research is real, we are really moving forward. Because of the research, there is hope, thanks so much for hope, and thank you for making it more real than ever. It really is the best weekend of the year!"

Tournament director, host and founder Pat O'Connor and his wife, Beth, were honored Saturday with induction into the Little Fenway Hall of Fame. The O'Connors were recognized by the several longtime tournament volunteers for their vision in building and developing the three WIFFLE ball fields on their property, replicas of three of the nation's iconic baseball parks, that have led to the extreme growth in many fundraising events and for the countless enjoyment of others that play WIFFLE ball each year.

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The Blue Bulls, a longtime team based out of Rutland, won its first title in exciting fashion. Led by the pitching of tournament MVP Ben Harvey (16 Ks) and an eighth-inning, game-ending home run by Patrick Collins, the Blue Bulls earned a 4-3 win over the Staten Island Yankees — an original team from the first tourney in 2002, making its record seventh trip to the title game.

Collins' walk-off homer was the first-ever in 17 championship games. Other exceptional performances on the weekend were turned in by Billy Doyle of the Boston Beef recording 40 strikeouts on the mound in three round-robin games including one game of 19 Ks; Harvey and the Blue Bulls not allowing a run in their three games; an unassisted triple play by Allie Bosley of 101.3 ESPN Radio Huddle Wows and South Burlington; and the record 50th career homer by Tad Skelley of the Blue Bulls, which he hit in the title game.

Other award-winners were Eric Long of Staten Island earning the Tommy Long Sportsmanship Award, named after Long's late brother and former teammate; 1989 Brattleboro Union High School graduate Mike Moshovetis of GoodFellas picked up the Kim Trahan Fundraising Leadership Award; The Boston Beef won the Fan Club Award as the top fundraisers by raising over $50,000, one of a record five teams that raised over $40,000.

The tournament began Friday with the opening ceremonies and the annual Celebrity-Sponsor game. Saint Michael's College alum and NESN sports announcer Tom Caron and U.S. Olympic Gold Medal winning hockey player Amanda Pelkey of Montpelier and the University of Vermont were among several current and past Vermont sports legends including former UVM hoop standout Taylor Coppenrath; former LPGA tour golfer and UVM basketball star Libby Smith; local amateur golf legend Bob Maritano; and former UVM All-American defenseman Ted Yeates.

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