The second annual Around the Horn Baseball Classic is scheduled June 23-26 at the Veterans Home of California’s Cleve Borman Field in Yountville.
There will be six teams in the 19-and-under age division competing again this year. The four-day competition is organized by the Horn Heart Foundation. It was established in honor of Daryl Horn, who played baseball for the College of Marin and Sacramento State and was a longtime youth baseball coach and board member in Napa, and Joseph Horn, a Redwood Middle School student and baseball player.
Daryl Horn, 50, Joseph Horn, 14, Daryl’s brother-in-law, Troy Biddle, 52, and Troy’s son, Baden Biddle, 13, both of Bainbridge Island, Wash., were killed in a hit-and-run drunk driving accident on Nov. 25, 2017 on Interstate 80 in San Pablo. A Sacramento resident was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 135 years to life in April 2019.
“Just like last year, we want to offer a safe competitive tournament where players, coaches and spectators can come together and honor this game that we all love so much,” said Denise Horn, Daryl’s wife and Joe’s mother. "This event directly reflects our mission — to honor Daryl and Joe's legacy by harnessing the friendship and fun they embodied to create positive opportunities within our community. Everyone had such a great time last year, and we are just so excited to host this event for the second time.”
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Added Aaron Rofkahr, Denise’s brother and another of Joe’s uncles, “There is just something about baseball that brings a community together, and I know that Daryl and Joe would be so proud that we are honoring their legacies through this game.”
Daryl’s sister and Joe’s aunt, Amanda Horn, said the tournament is a great way to honor her brother and nephew. But this year is particularly special because a team from Bainbridge Island, Washington will be coming to play and pay tribute to Amanda’s late husband and son, Troy and Baden.
“The Bainbridge team is largely made up of Baden’s friends and former teammates,” she said. “Even though a couple of players have moved or currently play for other teams, they all wanted to come together to share in this special experience of playing at Borman in the Around the Horn Tournament.
“The meaning of this tournament is not lost on these boys, who will travel down because of the love they share for their friend and coach. Many of the Bainbridge players even met Daryl and Joe during their visits up to Washington over the years. It is going to be an emotional, inspirational and magical weekend for all of us who love and miss Daryl, Joe, Troy and Baden every day. Last year you could feel the passion for baseball running through the ballpark all weekend long, and there will be even more lasting memories created this year.”
The six teams will be split into two brackets. The Napa Valley Baseball Club, West Coast Kings and Pacific Foghorns will be in the Red bracket, and Bainbridge Island, Cardinal Newman and Bercovich will be in the Blue bracket.
The round-robin schedule has the Napa Valley Baseball Club playing one game on Thursday against the Cardinal Newman at 5 p.m.
On Friday, the action kicks off early with Napa Valley Baseball Club facing West Coast Kings at 8 a.m. It’ll be the West Coast Kings against the Pacifica FogHorns at 10:30 a.m., Bercovich against Cardinal Newman at 1 p.m., and Bainbridge Island against Cardinal Newman at 3:30 p.m. At around 6 p.m., immediately following the last game, there will be a welcome ceremony and buffet-style tournament dinner for eating in the stands while watching a Home Run Derby with contestants from each team.
Saturday’s games start at 9 a.m. Matchups on Saturday are Pacifica FogHorns vs. Bainbridge Island at 9 a.m., Pacific FogHorns vs. Napa Valley Baseball Club at 11:30 a.m., Bercovich vs. Bainbridge Island at 2 p.m., and Bercovich vs. West Coast Kings at 4:30 p.m.
Many fun activities will be going on in addition to the games. For example, each team will be given two tries to complete a timed “Around the Horn” drill, throwing the ball from base to base to base to plate. The team whose infield completes the drill the fastest will win a prize. Also, like last year, there will be a number of family friendly games for the fans to ensure that they feel like they are part of the action.
On Sunday, the brackets’ No. 3 seeds square off at 9:30 a.m., the No. 2 seeds play at noon, and the No. 1 seeds hit the field for the championship game at 3 p.m. An awards ceremony, rounding out the weekend’s games, will immediately follow the title game.
Admission is $5 per day or $10 for the entire weekend.
Kirk Smith, one of Daryl Horn’s closest friends for many years, will be back as the play-by-play announcer.
“Last year’s tournament was really something special, and everyone has been working hard to make this year even better” he said. “I had the honor to have played many games with Daryl at Borman when we were growing up, and being a part of this tournament and watching so many young players create their own memories is really what it is all about.”
Ron Ash, another longtime close friend and teammate of Daryl’s, will return as coach of the Pacific FogHorns, which adopted their team name in further tribute to the Horn family. Ash played with Daryl when their 1988 Hornets reached the Division II College World Series and was inducted into the Sacramento State Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.
“That field is so ‘senni’ — Daryl's word for sentimental — to me in that we, meaning Daryl and I and then his sons, too, all played at Borman Field,” Ash said last year. “My team will do its best to represent the fun-loving, hard-working, competitive, passionate style of baseball that both Daryl and Joe exhibited.”
This year’s Around the Horn Tournament will also honor a group of people who often get overlooked – the fans. Daryl’s appreciation of the role the fans play was captured in a letter written by his daughter and Joe’s sister, Greta Horn.
“Daryl believed a team is made up of not only the players on the field but the families and friends who sit in the bleachers cheering them on,” she wrote. “These spectators play a crucial role for the team. From the grandparents who drove out of their way, to the little brothers and sisters who gave up their weekends, to the friends showing up to support, Daryl understood how fans had the power to impact the game on the field. He wanted to create a culture of inclusivity extending beyond the dugout. He often referred to his team as a “baseball family” because that's what it meant to be connected to a team coached by Daryl Horn, whether as a player or a spectator. We are all a part of this unit working towards the same goal. To win, sure. But more importantly, to play some great baseball with passion and integrity.”
A letter sent to coaches for last year’s tournament also said the following of the Horns:
“Daryl, as coach, got every little bit of talent out of his players through positive reinforcement, baseball repetition, tough lessons, and making the game fun. In turn, Joe made the game fun with his deep laugh, leadership, and what would have certainly become an electric arm. This tournament is about their legacies --- i.e., playing this game competitively, with integrity, and with an appreciation for its deeper life lessons.”
Added Amanda, “This tournament offers a unique travel experience for the athletes and their families. These boys are thrilled to still be playing baseball together and to have this chance to create lasting memories at such an iconic baseball field with other teams who feel the same way about the sport, and the Horn and Biddle families. The Napa and Bainbridge Island communities, already connected by tragedy, now have an amazing opportunity to come together to experience the joy of baseball and celebrate Daryl and Joe throughout the weekend. We hope a lot of people make it out to Borman this weekend to join in the fun.”
Visit hornheartfoundation.org for more information.