ESSEX, Vt. – Lee Roy had seen enough of 19-year-old Ben Davison playing third base for the opposing team. The kid was taking away too many hits, throwing out too many runners.

Move him out of there, yelled Roy to the coach of the Green Mountain Moose, who just happened to be Davison’s mother. Cost you a hundred dollars, came the response.

OK, done, said Roy, coach of the Goody’s Pointers, otherwise known as the Roy family team.

The Moose still won the game Saturday morning. Afterward, Roy handed $100 to a startled Ben Davison. “Now I’m going to make a donation in your name to the Travis Roy Foundation,” said Lee Roy, taking the $100 back. “That OK with you?”

It was.

Welcome to the 10th annual Wiffle ball tournament that benefits the Travis Roy Foundation and its efforts to fund research to restore movement to those with spinal cord injuries, and to present grants to those in need. In 2002, seven teams raised $4,000 and played in the steady rain at Little Fenway Park.

Friday afternoon, the first two teams from a 24-team field played at adjacent Little Wrigley Field, beginning the three-day tournament. As of 11 a.m. Saturday, more than $377,000 had been raised by the individual players. Concession and raffle sales may add another $20,000 by the end of today’s championship game.

Another two dozen teams or so are on a waiting list.

Those are the hard numbers. What can’t be quantified is the spirt that infects everyone who finds this bucolic spot next to Farmer Ed’s dairy farm. The seven-inning games can be intense, but egos and testosterone are left in the cars that fill every available spot in the freshly mowed fields.

“You cross a one-lane bridge, drive down a dirt road and everything changes,” said Travis Roy. “It’s a little nostalgic, a little bit of America and pretty simple. Everyone grew up playing Wiffle ball.”

Or, as Pat O’Connor says at the opening ceremonies, “If you’re here for the first time, welcome to the family. If you’ve come back, welcome home.”

He built a faithful, scaled-down version of Fenway Park in his backyard more than 10 years ago. Then he read “Eleven Seconds,” the story of Travis Roy, the freshman hockey player for Boston University who slid into the boards during his first 11 seconds on the ice in his first game.

Roy broke his neck and aside from a right bicep, lost all movement from the neck down. That was some 15 years ago. Mainers wept for the lost promise of the young hockey player from Yarmouth.

O’Connor, reading the book, discovered that Travis Roy’s parents, Lee and Brenda Roy, had ties to Vermont and Travis spends his summers at his camp in the family compound on Goodsell Point in nearby Colchester. O’Connor made his pitch: Why not a Wiffle ball tournament to raise money for the foundation?

What has evolved is part company picnic, part family reunion, part sporting event.

“It’s magical,” said Tyler Anderson, who plays for the South Street Hard Shells, the only Maine-based team and comprised of some of Travis Roy’s childhood friends. “I can’t find the words to describe it. You come away feeling so fulfilled.”

Meaning there weren’t many dry eyes among a generation not known for its tears when Saturday’s money total was announced. Chad Drew, a schoolboy teammate of Travis Roy, raised $5,000. He returned from California to play with the Hard Shells. Other players joined the 20-20 and 30-30 clubs. That’s 20 or 30 donations of $20 or $30.

Matt Perkins, the Windham High football coach, took his turn playing first base for the Hard Shells. “This is unbelievable. I went home after last year and told all my coaches and the other coaches and they got excited. I’d love to have the second Maine team in this.”

You look around and see the smiles and high fives and it doesn’t matter what it says on your team shirt. There is bickering, finger-pointing and worse everywhere else these days, but here at Little Fenway and its newer sister field, Little Wrigley, no one scowls when the other team hits the home run.

Just as Bill “The Spaceman” Lee laughed when someone roped his eephus pitch to center field during the celebrity game between the Rich and Famous.

“This is my third year,” said Taylor Coppenwrath, the former University of Vermont basketball hero, now playing in Europe. “I’ll come back as many times as they ask me. I can’t believe the feeling here.”

Sure, for the teams it is about winning. “You’ve got to be good, got to be lucky and have good karma,” said Boston Beef captain Art “The Butcher” Page, whose teams have two titles. “I don’t care about the championships. Just listen to how much money our players have raised. That’s what this is about.”

“They get it,” said Travis Roy. “I can feel that spirit. Just about everybody wants to see me out of this chair. They want to see all the victims of spinal cord injuries get out of their chairs.”

On Friday, Roy met 4-year-old Maxx LaRock of Monkton, Vt., who suffered his injury in an accident caused by a drunk driver. LaRock was 2 years old. Saturday morning, Roy said meeting Maxx churned his stomach.

“I feel horrible. I got 20 years of able-bodied freedom. Maxx got two years. His family hasn’t asked for our help but we got him here, so we’re hoping.”

Garrett Burgess of Chelmsford, Mass., was also in a car accident and suffered a spinal cord injury. During a recent operation to stablize his spine, he lost his eyesight. He went to his senior prom and has been accepted at UMass-Lowell.

“He’s one of my inspirations,” said Travis Roy. “I can’t deny the losses (of independence). It’s still not a lot of fun. I can’t believe it’s been 15, 16 years (since his injury.) But at some point there will be a cure.”

Today’s first game starts at 8:30 a.m. Telecasts of the games are streamed live on There is a link on the home page.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveSolloway