Jun 3, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorMatthew Phifer was on the mind of Travis Foutz all day Saturday on the baseball diamond.
Foutz has put together the annual Matthew Phifer Memorial Tournament for the past three years in Lander.
Foutz was taking ground balls and hitting fly balls deep into the outfield in memory of Phifer.
Phifer died in May 2008 in a car accident. He was an outstanding swimmer at Lander Valley High School.
"We got him out playing baseball a couple of years before he died," Foutz said. "We were just getting him started when he died. The tournament is in his honor."
Foutz and Phifer were good friends in high school.
"We grew up together," Foutz said. "He was working at the hospital. At the funeral there were all types of people that were close to Matt that I didn't even know. He was involved in all different circles."
The three-day tournament has three teams in a round robin field.
The teams in the field this year are Los Gatos Negros, Blue Socks and the Kings.
"The tournament hasn't blown up," Foutz said. "We started out trying to scrape together three teams. Now, we have three solid teams."
The Blue Socks won the 2012 title with a 3-0 record.
Regular baseball rules apply in the tournament. There are no time limits or mercy rules.
"We want to get other teams," Foutz said. "We have found teams in Jackson to play in the fall and spring. We are going to try and get teams from around the state to either play in exhibition games or bring them into the tournament."
In the Saturday morning game, the Gatos beat the Blue Socks 14-5.
"You play serious without getting over the top of it," Foutz said. "Everybody plays hard."
The tournament will finish Sunday, with the Blue Socks taking on the Gatos in a rematch at 2 p.m.
At 5 p.m. the Kings and the Blue Socks end the tournament.
"The age group is mixed," Foutz said. "It just depends on who can make the game."
Cowboy State Baseball League
"We had a different name, and at some point we liked this name better," Foutz said. "It's just something that we started."
Lander has staged the Old Timers Baseball tournament in August for a number of years.
"It's only two weeks," Foutz said. "We started to play pickup ball. We decided that we had enough interest for a league."
There are four teams in the league.
Games are played Saturdays at Lander City Park.
"One of the teams didn't enter the tournament because they are brand new," Foutz said. "They are still getting an idea of what their team is."
Foutz is looking to get Rock Springs, Rawlins and other towns in Fremont County involved in the league.
"We haven't found many Wyoming teams," Foutz said.
"We hope to expand the league to be statewide."
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