Dudley Preul loved to play softball and to organize teams and lineups, his friends said. For 40 years, he had been involved in softball in Denison.
Last year he organized a four-team, round-robin tournament in Denison and was planning a second annual tournament this summer, with the assistance of others, when he suffered a stroke.
Preul died July 17 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha at the age of 70, just three days before the date of the tournament. His funeral was Monday.
It seemed only natural to those who knew Preul that the tournament take place as scheduled in his honor, even with three teams.
“We were hoping to have a fourth team, but the teams that are here really wanted to be here,” Josh Jackson, one of Preul’s friends, said on Saturday morning before the first pitch was thrown at the 7th Street softball field.
Getting a fourth team proved difficult because of other softball tournaments scheduled for Saturday, including one in Early.
The teams that played were The Pub, the Shockers (sponsored by Beer 30) and Wes Pudenz Trucking from the Breda/Carroll area.
Some of the winnings from the tournament will go toward the recreation program, Jackson said.
He had talked to Preul nearly all summer about the tournament.
“He told me, ‘Pick a good day in July that works for us all,’” Jackson remembered.
Jackson became acquainted with Preul when he moved to Denison 10 years ago. At that time he played for another team. Preul’s teams were always sponsored by The Pub, he said.
“I would see Dudley at the games,” he added. “He always loved to talk baseball and softball, and I loved to talk baseball and softball. It was a natural connection.”
Jackson said Preul had told him that if he didn’t get a fourth team as the date for the tournament approached to call another person.
The Thursday before Preul had a stroke, Jackson hadn’t heard anything back from him and called his number several times. Hearing that Preul was in the hospital and then that he died last week was a shock.
Jackson credits Justin Davis of the Shockers as a driving force in making sure that the tournament was played on Saturday.
“I knew Dudley was in the hospital, and we decided we were going to make this happen,” said Davis.
“I’ve known Dudley for 15 years. I’ve played against him and helped him with tournaments,” he added.
Davis first became acquainted with Preul as a member of a team in Soldier. At that time teams from a number of towns, including Soldier and Denison, would travel a circuit of the league towns.
He was 18 when David first met Preul, and when he later moved to Denison, they formed a closer bond.
Davis, who has played in the Denison league for 12 years, wants to keep Preul’s tournament going as an annual event.
On Saturday, members of the three teams battled the heat and wind as well as taking part in a friendly competition, all while remembering Preul’s passion for the game.
“Playing softball is the best way to honor Dudley’s memory,” said Jackson.