NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- Hurricane Sandy ripped the community of North Salem apart when an accident killed two boys. But a baseball tournament in the boys' honor is bringing the community together.
The second game of the Baumler Robson Baseball Tournament starts at 6 p.m. Thursday at Volunteers Park. The tournament involves the community, the friends and families of 11-year-old Jack Baumler and 13-year-old Michael Robson, who were killed after a tree fell on the Baumler's home in North Salem.
Jack's father Eric Baumler, who is coaching one of the teams in the tournament, said it was difficult to fight back tears as the boys took the field for the tournament's first game last Thursday.
"It was so emotional. It brought back those times when all of the boys were there at the field," Eric Baumler said. "I was joking with (Michael's father) Mike Robson after a ball got stuck up in the backstop on a foul ball. And he said to me 'which one of them do you think is up there holding it?'"
Both boys shared a passion for the game that both fathers have rarely seen before.
"Jack was all about baseball and it was the only sport he was ever interested in," Eric Baumler said. "This tournament is perfect for them. This community has been overwhelmingly generous and kind and supportive through all of this."
Baumler's team won 8-1 last week to kick off the tournament.
"It was so great to see the boys, who got special uniforms with the boys' initials on them and it meant a lot to every one of them," Eric Baumler said. "It brought back so much emotion. Everyone knows each other in this town and they're such wonderful people with big hearts so there were a lot of tears out there."
Jack's older brother Will, who was at home and suffered minor injuries during Hurricane Sandy, is pitching for the Baumlers' team.
"The boys played inspired with some of the best baseball I've seen them play and this has really brought them closer together," Eric said. "It's something that they all need and something that Will really needs at this time too."
The tournament is set to culminate with a championship game on Aug. 8 at Provident Bank Park in Pomona, N.Y., home of the Rockland Boulders. The North Salem team will play at 4:15 p.m. with the Boulders game set to begin at 7 p.m. Representatives from the Baumler and Robson families will throw out the first pitch at the Boulders game.
Tickets will be sold at the game for $13, with proceeds going to the families.