It's been four years now since Alexander Peters, a member of the Lynnfield High School Class of 2005, was killed in a drunk driving crash. However, his memory lives on through the various efforts of his parents Nick and Dinyce - including the upcoming memorial softball tournament that bears his name and which takes place this year on Saturday, June 23.
In a recent conversation with Lynnfield Patch, Alexander's father, Nick, recalled how the tournament that bears his son's name evolved from an event for Lynnfield's Over-40 Softball League into a major town event that helps fund scholarships for high school. He is currently the commissioner of the league. Playing baseball with friends one night at the high school, Nick said that he got the idea to start a memorial fund. Some of his friends soon contributed, and it grew from there.
"This is a nice way to get back and see his old friends," said Peters. "These are kids I used to coach in Little League..."
Some funds raised also go to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The two annual $1,000 scholarships go to a male and female LHS basketball player, which was one of several sports Alex enjoyed playing, along with baseball and football.
To this day, baseball teammates from the LHS Class of 2005 have returned regularly to participate in the event. Alex attended Malden Catholic and returned to Lynnfield High School for his senior year. He died after an accident that occurred when he was in the back seat of a vehicle driven by a friend who had been drinking. "You know kids, they think they're invincible," said Peters, stating that "kids must realize it's real, not a game."
Many area residents may also be familiar with Alexander's mother, Dinyce Peters, who has been profiled in local media before and who speaks regularly before students about the dangers of drunken driving. "I can't do that," said Nick. "It would be too tough for me. She's a trooper. She wants to get the word out."
The annual tournament draws in the neighborhood of 150 people, reported Peters, and they play on as many as a dozen teams. The games typically last about 45 minutes on the LHS fields, with each batter getting only one pitch per at bat to work with. While some teams are set up before the event, individuals are also welcome to attend and can be joined with a team. Last year, the tournament also went to a two-division format to reflect the fact that some of the participants played college baseball while others are strictly casual players.
This is the only annual fundraiser by the Alexander Peters Memorial Fund, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with an unpaid board of directors. Peters said that the softball tournament is likely to continue for a few more years, after which the event could potentially move beyond its natural shelf life and then evolve into a more of a dinner/evening event. It takes the family and their friends a couple of months to prepare for the annual tournament, and the difficulties associated can obviously go well beyond the logistics. "Emotionally, it's difficult to gear up for it," said Peters. "Thank God for my friends on the Red Team."
Registration at the Alexander Peters Memorial One-Pitch Softball Tournament begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 23. The registration fee is $30, and there will also be food and raffle/silent auction items including Red Sox and Patriots tickets and various gift certificates. "It's a good day. It's a fun day," said Peters.
For more about the Alexander Peters Memorial Fund, click here.