12/14/2023 11:50 AM -
Remembering Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean #TCMM
With dreams of playing in the big leagues, Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean moved to Alberta to hone their baseball skills with the Lethbridge Bulls, Prairie Baseball Academy (PBA), and Vauxhall Academy. The two players clearly made their mark on the community with stories of their selflessness - from helping rookie players to surprising their landlord by decorating his house for Christmas while he was away - shared following the tragedy of their deaths in 2011.
December 15th, 2023 marks twelve years since the tragic night that forever changed the Alberta baseball community. Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean, along with Tabitha Stepple, were senselessly gunned down on their way home for the holidays, with Shayna Conway as the sole survivor of the triple homicide. Despite the heartbreaking loss, their enduring impact on the game of baseball and the community they touched remains steadfast.
A Lasting Legacy
Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean, known for their passionate, gritty style of play and big aspirations for the big leagues, continue to inspire and influence the baseball community in Alberta. Their enduring legacy includes scholarships that have supported young players in pursuing their own baseball dreams. The scholarships, administered through the Prairie Baseball Academy (PBA) and Vauxhall Academy of Baseball, where Craswell played shortstop in 2007 and 2008, aim to alleviate the financial burden for aspiring athletes.
Kids Baseball Camp and Memorial Fund
The Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean (TCMM) Memorial Fund has established an annual kids baseball camp at Spitz Stadium, impacting hundreds of young players. This camp not only imparts valuable baseball skills but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and joy in the spirit of Craswell and MacLean's love for the game.
Honouring Their Lives Through On-Field Events
Each year, the TCMM Memorial Fund organizes a benefit game between the Vauxhall Jets and the Lethbridge Bulls, preceding the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) season. This event provides an opportunity for the baseball community to come together, celebrate the lives of Craswell and MacLean, and support the legacy they left behind. In addition to the benefit game, the annual memorial game and home run derby held at Spitz Stadium in July allow alumni of PBA, Bulls, and Vauxhall Jets to reconnect and share memories. These on-field events serve as poignant reminders of the enduring friendships and bonds formed through the love of baseball.
Turning Tragedy into Hope
The TCMM Memorial Fund initiatives, including scholarships and on-field events, have been instrumental in turning a tragic story into a beacon of hope. By providing financial assistance to aspiring Canadian athletes, the fund ensures that the passion for baseball instilled by Craswell and MacLean continues to flourish. In 2017, Tyson Ford, a former teammate of MacLean and Craswell and who has organized the Memorial Fund events, emphasized the importance of preserving their legacy. He noted that these initiatives help ensure that Tanner and Mitch are not forgotten, and their impact continues to resonate in the hearts of the baseball community. Now in 2023, Tanner and Mitch's legacy is stronger than ever. The efforts of the TCMM Memorial Fund have not only honoured the memories of Craswell and MacLean but have also united the baseball community in Southern Alberta. Despite the passage of time, the bond formed in the wake of the tragedy remains strong, connecting the Bulls, PBA, and Vauxhall Academy.
As December brings painful anniversaries, the baseball community in Ablerta finds solace in coming together to remember Tanner Craswell and Mitch MacLean. The scholarships, kids camp, and on-field events organized by the TCMM Memorial Fund will serve as a testament to the enduring impact of two young men who played the game with passion, grit, and a smile on their faces. In honouring their memories, the Alberta baseball community ensures that the spirit of Tanner and Mitch lives on, inspiring generations of players to come.
Photos of 2023 TCMM Game by Lethbridge Sports