Sunset High honors fallen soldier John Pelham’s legacy on the diamond

Sunset High honors fallen soldier John Pelham’s legacy on the diamond

A game unlike any other

Oregon is close to crowning state champions on the diamond and the Sunset boys feel they have a pretty good shot at winning it all.

Last month’s High School Spotlight was on a metro league game that is so much more than the final score for the Apollos.

The stars and stripes, the laces and rawhide, the purple and camo of the Apollos – the John Pelham Memorial game is unlike any other.

Ten years gone and never forgotten by longtime head coach John Barnes and his Sunset baseball program.

“Baseball is a game where it’s a game we all played, but it’s marred by human error and today it’s all about humans coming together,” Barnes said. “We’re free because of people like John.”

Army specialist John Pelham was an intelligence officer killed in action at the age of 22 while serving his country in a second tour of duty during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Portland Pilots’ top pitcher Nick Brink has a certain look on the mound after a challenging year away from the game.

Feb. 12, 2014, remains the worst day for John’s father, fellow Sunset alum with the class of ‘77, Wendall Pelham.

“As you get married and have children, you want and hope the best for them and hope you have taught them correct principles so they can guide and govern themselves and make an impact on the community,” Pelham said.

The leftfielder from the SHS class of 2010, John’s No. 8 will never be worn again.

“To know that having your number retired is only for a significant few and it’s generally based on the love and the respect of organizations and that’s what this is telling us,” Wendall Pelham said. “Sunset baseball, the Sunset community loves and respects John and his service and his sacrifice.”

It was a beautiful day to play in John’s memory.

“We talk about using the game of baseball as a vehicle for life and what better way than to honor someone that served our country, gave his life for us, it puts everything into perspective,” Barnes said.

Kruz Schoolcraft is a current Sunset junior. His Apollos may be the second-ranked team in the state, and he may be the best overall player in all of Oregon, but this metro league rivalry with Westview was one to come together and live like John.

“Obviously, he died for our freedoms so I think it’s important that number should be retired and nobody else, that should belong to him,” Schoolcraft said. “My brother played on the national team, and I think it’s as close as you can really get with how we honor the United States and how John helped us with our freedoms.”

 

A military charity aiding Gold Star families and veterans has been set up in John Pelham’s honor. www.livelikejohn.us/

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