This year’s Imperial Valley Baseball Network Valley Baseball Classic honored both local high school baseball and Richard “Babe” Henry on Saturday at Southwest High School.
The event featured three Imperial Valley League baseball games with Central Union High taking on Calexico, Holtville meeting Imperial and IVL-leading Brawley Union attempting to wrap up an IVL championship against host Southwest.
“It’s the second year and it’s to promote baseball and to get as many people out and get them excited and raise money for IVBN scholarships,” said Brawley head coach and IVBN board member Pedro Carranza. “It’s becoming an annual thing and we lost a home game last year, but it was for a good cause.”
The IVBN was founded to promote local baseball and assist players from the youth level through high school and the Valley Baseball Classic is a natural extension of that philosophy.
“The whole reason we started doing this was that we wanted to bring the baseball community together in one place, try to get out a bigger crowd for the high school games and that the community would then continue to support them,” said IVBN President Ruben Niebla. “We are here to help the teams and we are covering the classic’s umpire expenses and are looking at hosting a local high school tournament next year to cut down on travel expenses.”
IVBN board members Simon Canalez and Mickey Carter, along with members Craig Lyon and Oscar Quintero, organized this year’s classic, which honors Henry.
Henry, who died last year, was a member of the IVBN’s Hall of Fame.
Henry was the prototypical all-around athlete playing baseball, basketball and football at both Central High and Imperial Valley College.
Henry was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952 and served two years in Germany, where he coached and played baseball.
After serving, Henry returned to El Centro, where he gave of his time working with the youth and refereeing football and basketball games as well as volunteering as an umpire.
Henry coached Little League, Colt League and Senior League baseball, also coaching girls’ softball teams for several years.
Last year’s classic honored the late Fred Yturralde.
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