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Karns City, Moniteau unite for Mason Martin baseball fundraiser

Rivalry Aside
Karns City and Moniteau baseball stand with members of the Martin family in support of Mason Martins recovery before their section matchup Wednesday evening at Michelle Krill Field at Historic Pullman Park in Butler. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Eagle

With the occasion that accompanied the game on the diamond on Wednesday night, Karns City’s baseball team was eager to perform.

The Gremlins prevailed over neighboring Moniteau by a 13-7 score, piling up 14 hits in the process. The night, however, was just as much about helping out classmate Mason Martin and his family with a fundraiser as it was the ballgame.

“It was nice honoring their family,” said Karns City’s Jacob Callihan, who had a triple, two singles, and an RBI in the victory. “We wanted to show out for all these fans tonight … It makes us very energetic. We just wanted to get out there. We were tired of waiting for the first pitch. We just wanted to get out there and play.”

Martin, a senior who collapsed while playing quarterback for Karns City’s football team last fall, is progressing in his recovery while being cared for at UPMC Children’s Hospital.

As the rival teams competed, a raffle was held on the mezzanine at Michelle Krill Field at Historic Pullman Park. Fans bought tickets for a drawing on a Pittsburgh Steelers basket which included an autographed photo of running back Najee Harris and also a baseball and trading card signed by Mars graduate and Pittsburgh Pirates closer David Bednar.

The 50/50 winner received $575, all of which was given back to help the Martin family. There was also a donation jar set at the park’s entrance.

“It’s just great that people come out to support us like that,” said Bob King, Martin’s grandfather. “In a small community, people do this … When you’re in a big city, people don’t care. But this little community, they’ve been so good to us. It’s a great turnout.”

Prior to the contest, with both teams dressed in supportive warm-up shirts, King and Martin’s other grandfather, Denny Martin Sr., tossed out ceremonial first pitches.

“I tried to talk Denny’s father into doing it,” King admitted. “He called me two days ago and said, ‘I really don’t want to do that.’ I said, ‘I’ll do it. I don’t care. I know half these people.’”

Both wound up lobbing strikes to Karns City’s coaches, then were gifted a home plate memento by the teams.

“Both teams, they all signed it on both sides,” King said. “The kids didn’t have to do a whole lot of that, but they did. They stepped up.”

The money raised on the night can help with anything, King added.

“We don’t know where this is going to go with Mason,” he said. “He may be in a wheelchair the rest of his life for all we know.”

If that’s the case, the family will need to buy a wheelchair-accessible van and make renovations to their home. King said that when Martin does return home, he’ll require nurse care for most of the day.

Gremlins coach Josh Smith explained that the rival communities coming together shows how situations can be bigger than sports.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Smith said. “Some of my really good, close friends are from Moniteau. We battled on the field, but we’re great friends now. If you can put aside all the competitive nature to be there for somebody in small community, that’s what it’s all about.

“For everybody to say, ‘You know what? We’re all about Mason tonight.’ That’s what makes a great community. That’s what made great baseball tonight. That’s what made great fans, great energy for the kids. There’s so many great things (with) a small community like that I’m so glad I’m a part of it.”

He also compared that sort of attitude to how his team carries itself.

“In our small schools, everybody knows everybody,” Smith said. “If one guy’s hurting, one family’s hurting, everybody is there to pick them up. That’s our mentality as a team. Nobody cares what anybody’s average is, nobody cares what did what. Just handle your business.

“We were able to keep our emotions in check, handle our business, and now we’ll enjoy it for a bus ride home.”

Moniteau and Karns City line up for the national anthem while wearing No. 2 on their shirts in support of Mason Martin before their section matchup Wednesday evening at Michelle Krill Field at Historic Pullman Park in Butler. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Eagle
Grandfathers of Mason Martin, Bob King, left, and Denny Martin Sr., throw out the opening pitch before the section matchup between Karns City and Moniteau on Wednesday evening at Michelle Krill Field at Historic Pullman Park in Butler. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Eagle

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