Tourney Memorializes LITH Boy's Love of Baseball
The 6th Annual Brian Krueger Memorial Tournament was held recently at Sunset and LeRoy Guy parks with a record number of 50 teams participating.
All ball parks hold memories for young players who hit a home run, caught a fly ball or hit the line drive that brought in the winning run.
But Sunset Park baseball field number 1 is the sentimental favorite of many Lake in the Hills residents.
It’s the field where Brian Krueger played for the Lake in the Hills Youth Athletic Association from 2002 to 2004 while at the same time battling cancer. The field was Brian’s escape from his illness and treatments.
Brian lost his battle with cancer at 11 years old on Dec. 23, 2005.
Since, field 1 has been renamed the Brian Krueger Field.
“Playing and watching baseball was life to Brian,” parents Ken and Laurie Krueger said in a thank you letter to the YAA. “Baseball gave him great enjoyment even when he did not feel well.”
Brian’s courage, determination and love for baseball lives on every summer as the YAA hosts the Brian Krueger Memorial Tournament. This year, the YAA held the 6th annual tournament at Sunset and LeRoy Guy parks from July 6 to 10.
Fifty in-house, all-star baseball teams competed in the event, the largest number of teams ever, YAA Tournament Director Tom Johnson said.
“There’s a really cool vibe at the ballpark about this tournament,” Johnson said. “Ken Krueger (Brian’s dad) addresses all the teams in the tournament. He tries to emphasize that baseball isn’t about winning — it’s about giving your best.”
Johnson said many baseball organizations return year after year. Along the way, the tournament has picked up more participants for the five age divisions, which ranges from 8 to 12 years old.
This year, teams traveled from as far away as Mattoon, Ill.; Chicago; Grayslake; Geneva; Elmhurst and Palatine. Local teams from Crystal Lake, Algonquin, and Richmond-Burton also joined in.
Last year, the YAA was able to donate $10,000 of the total proceeds to the Midwest Children’s Brain Tumor Center in Park Ridge, where Brian received treatments during his seven-year cancer battle, Johnson said.
This year, the club hopes to donate more. Johnson did not have the final tally on this year’s tournament proceeds.
"This tournament is about celebrating Brian, his life and baseball,” Johnson said. “It’s a memorial to his life. There’s really a good feeling of sportsmanship at this event that you probably won’t find at other tournaments.”