Tee It Up For Teammates
By Candace Morrow
Photos by Anne Appleton
A fellow CSU baseball player’s struggle with health issues triggered teammate Dennis Neal to figure out a meaningful way to alleviate his colleague’s financial strains.
“Sometime prior to 2008, I suggested we have a golf outing to not only honor him,” said Neal, “but maybe give him a small monetary token that said in its own way: We love you, we are thinking of you, and we’re still your teammates through it all.”
Neal’s then homerun idea has become a university and community success. Marking its 10th anniversary this year, the annual Charles Ragsdale Tee It Up For Teammates Golf Benefit and Reunion has donated nearly $25,000 to alumni players in need.
What started as a “Reunion with a Cause” has since matured into something bigger than the sport. The nonprofit organization is named after Ragsdale — the university’s first baseball coach and influential community leader who dedicated 15 years to CSU baseball since 1970. And the organization hosts the only event where players can reconnect with all four (current or former) head baseball coaches from CSU during its annual celebrations.
“We started the baseball program in 1970 with no equipment, no practice field, no fence, not enough uniforms and never practiced on the current field until the day of the very first game,” said Ragsdale. “The most profound impact the golf benefit has had on me is the love, concern, camaraderie and assimilation in the baseball program that the players from different Columbus schools — and across the nation — have had for each other.”
The organization honors and supports former CSU baseball players who have experienced, are experiencing or will experience health difficulties. In some cases, Tee It Up also aids the families of those baseball alumni who are deceased.
“Many times the families of these former players get involved in the production of our event,” Neal said. “We have the ability to give back to players’ children, widows, grandchildren, parents and grandparents in our own small way.”
Proceeds from the annual golf benefit and reunion, which Neal now chairs, often go toward financial assistance for those alumni who are ill; family members of alumni players who want to advance their education but lack funds; and improvements to CSU’s baseball program — like its new batting cage covers and remodeled dugout.
The organization has become so popular that additional support comes from companies such as Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Columbus Fire and Safety, Triangle Beverage, B&B Beverage and Buffalo Rock.
“It’s a great reunion of past baseball players at CSU that renews those bonds these guys made many years ago,” said current CSU baseball coach Gregory Appleton, who has contributed to the nonprofit for almost seven years now. “It connects them back to CSU and shows the love these guys have for their former teammates.”
Visit columbusstatebaseballteeitupforteammates.com to get involved.