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Air National Guard softball tournament turns 50

Airmen from across the Air National Guard play in the 50th annual ANG softball tournament in St. Joseph, Mo., on Aug. 12, 2015.   This is the fifth time the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, hosted the event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Bruce Jenkins)

Airmen from across the Air National Guard play in the 50th annual ANG softball tournament in St. Joseph, Mo., on Aug. 12, 2015. This is the fifth time the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, hosted the event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Bruce Jenkins)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Airmen from across the U.S. Air National Guard converged on Heritage Park in St. Joseph, Mo., on Aug. 12 to kick off the 50th Annual Air National Guard (ANG) Softball Tournament.

Master Sgt. Tia Masters, one of the tournament organizers from the 139th Airlift Wing, estimates there were about 2,000 people at the park daily. This estimate included 10 teams from the 139th.

The tournament, which has been hosted by the 139th in previous years, wrapped up Saturday, Aug. 15, after four days of play.

"We play hard and we work hard," said Col. Ralph Schwader, 139th Airlift Wing commander.

He stressed that while this tournament is an important morale booster, it also brings more than one million dollars of economic impact to the region.

Greg Pryor, Kansas City Royals 1984 World Series infielder, was present to autograph a baseball for the 139th, which will be on display at the wing headquarters building.

"This is a unique opportunity for guard members to come together," said Capt. Robert Lovelady, a member of the 139th Airlift Wing. "Players traveled from as far away as Hawaii to play in this year's tournament."

Festivities included a fireworks display on the first night, a dinner sponsored by local businesses, and live music.

New Jersey took first place in the women's division. Georgia took first place in the COED division and men's open.

The 139th Airlift Wing placed in the following divisions:

139th Womens - Mitchell - 2nd place
139th Womens - Masters - 3rd place
139th 45 and over - Lovelady - 3rd place
139th Coed - McMullan - 4th place