The 12th annual Jake Walkup Tribute Game is set to be played at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Lansing High School Baseball Complex and will be accompanied by various efforts to raise funds for the Jake Walkup Scholarship Fund.
The game and scholarship were created in memory of Jacob Walkup, a Lansing student and baseball player who died June 30, 2008, in an automobile accident.
A week after the accident, coaches of the Lansing American Legion teams, the Cubs and the Reds, turned their scheduled matchup into a benefit to raise money for the Walkup family. For years, the matchup between the Cubs and the Reds served as the Jake Walkup Game.
Now the game is played between current players in the Lions’ high school program and alumni who are able to attend. Lions head coach Michael Basler said since he took over the game he has tried to continue to make it a memorable experience.
“I think the goal is to just try and evolve it and keep making it better,” he said. “I kind of piggy-backed it into an alumni game because this is a really good time to bring people back and celebrate this tradition.”
Basler said having alumni come back to participate in the game has made a positive impact on the players in the Lions’ program who are able to participate.
“It’s always good to celebrate the guys that have been there and give your current players an opportunity to interact with them,” he said. “It’s important to keep our guys involved with the program even after they leave.”
While not every member of the Lions is able to participate due to prior obligations, Basler said he feels his players understand the importance of the game and the scholarship to the program.
Admission to the game is free, however, there will be a silent auction, bake sale and T-shirts for sale for those looking to contribute. The scholarship is awarded each year to selected students involved in baseball, band or football. Basler said the number of scholarships and amount of money awarded each year is determined by the funds they raise at the game.
“This is a great way to give back to our program, players and community,” Basler said, “but it’s really about celebrating Jake and his life and keeping his memory alive.”