New Jersey Baseball Feature Story
Vic Walker Tournament Returns
When you think of people who have a passion for baseball in general and for youth baseball in particular, you need look no farther than Dave Wintermute and Richard Roy of Lambertville. Between them, they bring a zest to the game that youth baseball advocates everywhere may emulate.
Dave Wintermute, otherwise known as “Wink” to his neighbors and friends in Lambertville, may rightfully claim the title of “Father of Youth Baseball” in the Lambertville-West Amwell area, while Richard Roy, fast to follow in Wink’s footsteps, will undoubtedly become his heir apparent.
Together, they plan to bring a resurgence to the time-honored, grandfather of youth baseball events in the South Hunterdon County area, the Annual Vic Walker Tournament. The Vic Walker tournament, named after lifelong resident and businessman in Lambertville, Victor Walker, provided a mid-summer venue for area teams and leagues to showcase their best players every year. It all took place under the auspices of the Lambertville-West Amwell Youth Baseball and Softball Association (LWAYBSA), and it all happened because of the community leadership and dedication of people like Dave Wintermute.
Vic Walker Tournament Sponsor
Lambertville-West Amwell Youth Baseball and Softball Association
The Vic Walker Tournament took shape in the late 1970s when the Lambertville Little League first considered hosting a post-season tournament for all-star teams representing area Little Leagues. Several years of planning resulted in the first tournament in July 1981. Readington Township won the first championship, defeating Milford D.V.A.A. after an eight-team, double elimination round.
In the years that followed, teams from Pennsylvania and Mercer County participated in the tournament as word of the competition spread. A temporary decline in the number of players forced a merger of the Lambertville and West Amwell recreation leagues in 1984, and the new league flourished again. In the late 1980s Pennsylvania teams dominated the tournament. The tournament continued uninterrupted through the turn of the century, until new construction at the old Ely Field in Lambertville forced the tournament to move to Hewitt Park in West Amwell.
Delays in the renovations to Ely Field caused the LWAYBSA to suspend the tournament in 2004. Five years later, though, the combined organizations of Lambertville and West Amwell, along with Stockton, have again come together to revive the annual event. As Wink tells it, what was once “the only game in town,” remains the premier tournament in the South Hunterdon County area, and he and Rich Roy intend to return the competition to the prominence it enjoyed over nearly a quarter century.
In 2009 they intend to make Vic Walker again one of the tournaments of choice for local teams. With the proliferation of youth travel teams throughout the state, Wintermute and Roy have vigorously planned to stage a tournament that will be bigger and better than ever before. They are taking applications for both a 10U and a 12U bracket, and they have set their sights on a late July target for getting things underway.
This writer had the privilege of serving as a volunteer umpire for the Vic Walker Tournament. Having worked in many tournaments in that capacity, I can safely say that nowhere does the comradeship of players, coaches, league officials, parents and spectators come together more noticeably or completely than at Vic Walker. The tournament has placed a heavy emphasis on sportsmanship, and that makes all the difference in the world.
While winning certainly ranks first on everyone’s list of priorities, it does not take a back seat to fair play, fun, and teamwork. In an era of win-at-all-costs and dehumanizing the opposition, Lambertville’s idea and practice of tournament play comes as a refreshing change of pace.
For his part, Richard Roy has a great interest in “returning the league – and the tournament – to what it was when I played in it, without the politics.” He points to the selflessness of local townspeople who, as did Vic Walker before them, give their time and effort to make the LWAYBSA live up to its promise and its legacy. As Roy states it, “volunteerism is a huge variable.”
To date, Wink and Roy have received many verbal commitments from teams wishing to participate in the ’09 revivial of this respected and renowned tournament. Competition brackets will form at the 10U and 12U levels, and some team slots still remain unfilled.
For information regarding team registration and/or sponsorship for league and tournament play, contact Dave “Wink” Wintermute at 609-397-8877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. NJB Magazine and NJB Online knows that you will benefit from the contact, if for no other reason than to talk youth baseball with one of the area’s best known, socially committed, highly regarded aficionados of the game.