MUSCATINE, Iowa–Nothing says summer like baseball, and nothing brings baseball to a community quite like a tournament. This year, the Muskie Baseball Academy held their first ever home tournament, dubbed the Muscatine Toyota Classic, July 25 and 26. A generous donation from Toyota of Muscatine helped make the tournament possible and started a new summer tradition.
Four years ago, Jennifer Wade, Whitney Phelps, and other families of local baseball players began working with Muscatine High School coaches to design a youth program that would prepare youth to play ball successfully once they reached the high school level. This vision grew into the Muskie Baseball Academy, a travel youth baseball program serving children ages seven through 14. Led by dedicated coaches passionate about teaching kids the fundamentals of baseball, the program provides excellent experiences for aspiring baseball players.
As the Muskie Baseball Academy has grown and found success, they began to set their sights on hosting a home baseball tournament of their own. When Jimmy Greenhaw, General Sales Manager of Toyota of Muscatine heard about the plans for the event, he knew right away that the dealership wanted to support it. A parent of a baseball player himself, Greenhaw knew how much youth programs benefit kids, and that he and everyone at Toyota of Muscatine wanted to make sure they stayed available for aspiring young players.
Though the Muskie Baseball Academy initially had trouble determining dates for it due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they eventually decided to host it July 25 and 26. When Greenhaw knew the tournament would go on, he said, “it was a no brainer,” for Toyota of Muscatine to lend them a hand. “I’m honored to do this and to help them out,” he added.
“Jeff and Tim Weber didn’t blink an eye when I brought it to them,” he remembers. “They’re very family oriented,” he emphasized. “We’re very happy to help out the Muskie Baseball Academy.” To assist the Muskie Baseball Academy in paying for umpires and other tournament necessities, they gave the group $5,000. At the tournament, several Toyota of Muscatine staff members also came out to greet fans and run several prize giveaways.
“It’s amazing to know that we have local supporters of youth programming,” said Wade, the Muscatine Baseball Academy president. She hopes this tournament will provide, “a segue for other tournaments,” in years to come.
This year, a total of 62 teams played in the first Muscatine Toyota Classic at Kent Stein Park. The Muskie Baseball Academy considered the event a great success and hopes it will attract more teams looking for good competition in the years to come.