BISMARCK, ND – The largest three-day charity softball tournament in the USA has cancelled what would be its 45th annual Sam McQuade Sr. -Budweiser Charity Softball Tournament, the Board of Directors announced today.
“It breaks my heart to cancel the tournament entirely for the first time since 1976, but after guidance from the state, health officials and local softball associations, this was really the only decision we could make,” said Shannon McQuade-Ely, Secretary/Treasurer for the McQuade Softball Board of Directors, and President of McQuade Distributing Co. “This is more than a simple softball tournament, it takes a lot of people to run it and to serve the main mission, which is raising money for local charities. Without the gate of thousands of fans and spectators, we cannot serve our mission. Without the out-of-state help from teams, umpires and volunteers, this tournament cannot happen. We needed to take everyone’s health and safety into account and do our part to ensure that this pandemic slows going into fall.”
“I am extremely disappointed that the 2020 McQuade Tournament must be cancelled due to Covid-19 fears,” said tournament Co-Director Jack Jones. “The tasks required of us to meet all suggested guidelines would have been monumental. It was a necessary decision. I apologize to all teams, players, fans, and volunteers who make our tournament the event it has become. Also to area businesses, who have already taken a huge hit in revenue and now lose what traditionally is their best weekend of the summer. Finally, to the charities who lose funding they require for all the necessary, but often unseen, services they provide for our community. My hope is 2021 returns us to the best McQuade ever…. but today….my heart aches.”
“I would ask that softball teams, players, fans, volunteers and friends of softball support the difficult decision the McQuade Board of Directors had to make to cancel the 2020 McQuade Charity Tournament due to Covid 19. The McQuade Charity Tournament has been the Crown Jewel of USA Softball, not only in North Dakota but in the United States. For softball people, there is simply nothing like the experience you have when you come to the McQuade,” said Dick Gulmon, USA Softball of North Dakota State Commissioner. “The McQuade Boards decision may be the most difficult decision to make regarding softball that I can remember over the last 35 years that I have been involved in ND Softball. Covid-19 has had a dramatic effect on all of our lives. I know we are all disappointed, teams, fans, volunteers, the local business community and most certainly the charities who have been the benefactors of so much enjoyment around softball. But I don’t think there is anyone more disappointed than the McQuade Board of Directors who had to make this decision. They are a compassionate dedicated group of people who spend their entire year on this event. Please support them with this decision and we will all look forward to a huge and successful McQuade Tournament in 2021.”
Each year the tournament relies on many out-of-state umpires in order to support the nearly 500 teams that participate. “With quarantine measures in place after returning home from out-of-state travel in some states, there were several umpires who were unable to make the trip to the tournament this year,” Said tournament Co-Director Mike Wolf. “From Nebraska alone, there were approximately 20-25 umpires who normally come to our tournament, they were not going to be able to attend the tournament this year because of a 14-day quarantine requirement when they returned home.”
“I believe that the board of directors made an extremely hard, but correct decision,” said Tim R. Watts, Nebraska State Umpire-in-Chief and 2016 McQuade Softball Volunteer Hall of Fame Inductee. “This will help protect the teams, umpires, parks staff, volunteers and the communities of Bismarck and Mandan from the possible spread that could occur. I know there will be people upset, but safety of those people comes first.”
“I’ve been traveling from Arizona to North Dakota for the McQuade Tournament since 2011. I’ve umpired all over the United States and it is hands down my favorite tournament. I’ll miss not seeing the many umpires and players I’ve become friends with over the years,” said Justin Lauby, an umpire from Phoenix, AZ. “But, I think player, fan and umpire safety needed to take precedence this year. We all have families to take care of and jobs to return home to. I will definitely be back next year and the tournament will be bigger and better than ever!”
“As a player, it is disappointing knowing we will not be out on the field for the 2020 McQuades tournament. As a tournament manager myself, I know it would be basically impossible to meet the CDC recommendations, even following USA softball guidelines to ensure everyone safety,” said JD Hanson from Center, ND. “I know McQuades will be back bigger and better in 2021.”
“With McQuades being a yearly trip for us, we use it as a reason to stop and see family in eastern ND” said Will Dodd from Kansas City, Mo. “We love McQuades and the opportunity it gives us to see family and friends from all over, but we completely understand the cancellation this year for safety reasons and are already looking forward to next year. 2021 will be the biggest tournament yet.”
The Softball Tournament Board of Directors were not able to consider pushing the tournament back to a later date, nor running a tournament over a few different weekends due to logistics with umpires, teams and volunteers. “I also acknowledge that this tournament is a boom for our local economy which is clearly in need right now,” said McQuade-Ely. “We did not make this decision lightly knowing that, and knowing that over 70 organizations and charities will also be affected.”
The Board is still looking at ways that some charity money can be raised for 2020. Team that have already sent in their registration fees will be notified of repayment options.
The USA's largest non-profit, single weekend slow-pitch softball tournament was founded in 1976 by Sam McQuade Sr. of McQuade Distributing Co., Inc., a local beer distributor. Being a father of a special needs son, Sam was keenly aware of the financial challenges of local charities and organizations that were involved in helping such less fortunate people. In 1976, the first year of the tournament, Sam and countless volunteers raised over $1,000 and brought 103 teams in 4 divisions to Bismarck-Mandan, ND. The event grew to over 475 teams and raised over $140,000 in total donations for more than 70 local charities and organizations in 2019.