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Softball game a fundraiser for slain man's son

HUDSON

The button sits on Mary Martell's green shirt. It's on her husband's shirt, as well.

Amy Peters wears one, too. After all, it's a picture of her son with his father.

They wear those buttons proudly, like medals of honor, to remember their lost loved one, Joe Martell.

Joe was gunned down March 29 during a melee at the Chasco Fiesta in New Port Richey. He was 34.

He left behind a 7-year-old son, Travis Williams-Martell.

They showed off their buttons at the Joseph Martell Memorial Softball Tournament on May 24 at Veterans Park. The event raised money for Travis' education fund.

"Travis is all that we have left of our son," said Mary Martell, Joe's mother. "The support they've shown me and my grandson … it means a lot. … I am very overwhelmed by everything that everyone is doing here, their generous donations, and this is for Travis' education, for his future."

The daylong event raised $9,000. Team Hammer beat Suncoast Eye 19-17 in the championship game that night.

According to tournament coordinator Brian Borruso, there were 16 teams, and he was amazed at the number of people who showed up to watch games.

"The family was very excited about it when we told them about (the tournament)," Borruso said. "This was a great turnout, and we're very happy to see all this. There was a lot of work, so we'll see if this becomes an annual thing."

A team of Joe's friends and family also played, but it lost both its games in the morning. The team was called the Hitbirds, though with a strategically placed dollar sign in front. The name was reminiscent of Joe, who constantly changed the lyrics to songs to make people laugh. Hitbirds came about because he changed the chorus to the Kenny Chesney/George Strait song Shiftwork.

"That was Joe, though," said Amy Peters, his once longtime girlfriend and Travis' mom. "He always changed lyrics to try to make you laugh. That was one of his things."

Joe also enjoyed hunting and fishing. It's what Joe and Travis are doing in the photo on the button.

"It's cool everyone is here (at the tournament for us)," Travis said. "I don't know (what to think of it), but it was hard losing my dad. I think about him a lot. I miss going hunting and fishing with him."

Peters went through many emotions throughout the day.

"This morning, coming over here (to the field), I cried. Putting up (Joe's) pictures, I cried," said Peters, holding back tears. "We talked every day. We were the best of friends. It's such a compliment to see that this many people care about Travis and me, to help take care of Travis in Joe's absence."

Joe's absence also is felt by his parents, who say Joe was "starting a new chapter in his life" by moving to Inverness for a job. Instead, Ken and Mary Martell took their son's remains and spread them in their home state of Wisconsin, on a favorite knoll Joe used while deer hunting.

"It's just sad that we even have to be here and that we're doing this for my grandson," Mary said. "This really gets you in the heart and humbles you."

Added Ken: "There won't be any justice (on Joe's death). But something like (the tournament) helps healing."

Peters said it was overwhelming how everyone stepped up at the tournament to help out with Travis and play in memory of Joe. And even though Joe wasn't on the field with the Hitbirds, they knew he still saw the games.

"We know that Joe's not here in body," Peters said, "but he's the angel in the outfield."

Community Sports Editor Mike Camunas can be reached at mcamunas@sptimes.com or (352) 544-9480.

>>Fast facts

Thinking of Travis

Two funds will help benefit Travis Williams-Martell's future and education. The money raised at the softball tournament was put into the Travis J. Williams Martell fund at Suncoast School Federal Credit Union. Anyone can walk into a Suncoast branch and donate. Also, the Travis J. Martell Trust Fund has been opened at Wachovia. Donate at any Wachovia branch. For details on the funds, call Brian Borruso at (727) 858-8836 or e-mail yankees.softball@hotmail.com.

Softball game a fundraiser for slain man's son 06/02/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2008 6:51pm]

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