WARNER ROBINS — After the last fan left the stadium, Tony Gay was still picking up cardboard that children left after sliding down the outfield hill at Little League Southeast Park.
Gay could also be found on the field in between games of the Southeastern Region softball tournament, raking clay and marking chalk lines. He also counted pitches.
Gay’s son Troy played in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 2008 when the Little League Southeastern Region tournaments were held there. When the tournaments moved to Warner Robins, Gay signed up to volunteer.
“It was such a good experience for him, I want to let (the other teams) enjoy the same,” Gay said.
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Gay and his family will be back at the ballpark pitching in when the Little League Baseball Southeastern Region Tournament begins Saturday.
His wife, Stacey Gay, was the catering host and volunteer lead during the softball tournament, which ended Monday. She made sure the teams were fed lunch at headquarters each day.
The Gays understood the impact the tournament and stadium had on the teams.
“The first time I stood at the stadium, I cried,” Stacey Gay said.
Deborah Copeland, Stacey Gay’s sister, wanted to give back to a league where her son played for three years.
“It gave me an opportunity to be out with Little League again,” Copeland said.
Copeland was the host of the South Carolina softball team.
Her volunteer job was to make sure the teams knew where the hotels were, where they could eat and what there was to do in town.
The practical nursing student also was in charge of the “aunt” and “uncle” of the South Carolina team — the locals who stayed with the team during the ball games and sometimes joined them for dinner.
Volunteering at the tournament wasn’t all work, however.
The sisters took time to enjoy a game in the outfield grass with Tony Gay. Before the game was finished, he was back near the opening to get out on the field to do more raking and chalking.
“It’s fun just being out here,” he said.
To contact writer Angela Woolen, call 923-5650.