In the world of sports, making a name for one’s self and building a legacy is the sign of a truly great player. For the city of Riverside, a new legacy is being formed by a local family in memoriam of the sudden death of a passionate baseball player.
Austin Gorrell died in his sleep from heart failure around 5:30 a.m., Oct. 10, 2015, at the age of 19 in Reno, Nev. Gorrell attended the University of Nevada where he had secured a roster spot on the baseball team and had been going to school just eight weeks.
Three months later, his parents, Kerry and Gina Gorrell, continue to make Austin’s name known throughout the region with a baseball tournament and scholarship bearing his name.
“The tournament is just another fantastic way of everybody participating in the sport they love,” Gina said. “It was not hard to get the kids to go, even though they were on Christmas vacation. It wasn’t like we were asking people, they were volunteering to come. The players, the kids, they were all jumping in because they love playing baseball anyway, so it is the perfect way to honor Austin.”
Initially, the idea was to hold a benefit softball game, but after some thought and input from close friends, the family decided to hold a tournament and give the contributions to players in need of financial aid for school.
“I would push him a little bit with his schoolwork,” Gina said. “Austin was so willing to do it because he had this drive in him and this goal to continue his baseball career in some form, and knew he needed good grades to do that.”
In a time of hardship, the Gorrells decided to provide for families who face financial hardship and may not be able to provide sufficient funds for their child’s education.
“The support of the community was incredible,” Kerry Gorrell said. “We ended up with more than 400 people at the championship game and $6,000 in scholarship money that we gave out to four baseball players that were participating in the tournament.”
California Baptist University provided the venue for the first Annual Austin Gorrell Baseball Classic, which featured nine teams from the greater Riverside area, such as Ramona High School and Martin Luther King High School, who squared off in the final game of the classic.
Gary Adcock, head coach of the CBU Lancers baseball team, was in attendance and said he had known Austin Gorrell since Austin was 9 years old and attended the first CBU summer youth baseball camp.
“We were excited to be chosen as the host site for the inaugural tournament,” Adcock said. “It was quite an honor. There were moments of sadness, reflection if you will, but overall there was joy and celebration for a life well-lived.”