Empty, quiet baseball fields.

No fans, no volunteers, no crowds.

COVID-19 had forced the reluctant cancelation of the 45th annual Sam McQuade Sr. – Budweiser Charity Softball Tournament in Bismarck.

A sad postponement of an event that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities every year.

Yet, despite all that, the McQuades 2020 event still managed to raise $84,000 for its charities.

Proof that this softball community is a tight, caring one. The actual games may have been gone, but the purpose of the games was still in play.

“Once the board made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s tournament, we immediately got to work on how we could still fundraise,” said Sam McQuade Sr. – Budweiser Charity Softball Tournament board member Shannon McQuade-Ely. “My hope was to raise half of what we donated last year, and somehow, with the help of the community, we were able to surpass that.”

Local business still made donations to McQuades. Teams that had already paid their registration fees for 2020 wanted to donate that money to tournament charities. Fans and volunteer umpires led various efforts to raise money for the charities involved.

Anarchy Bats, which sold commemorative 2020 McQuades softball bats, donated a portion of its sales — $25,000 — to tournament charities.

In the end, $84,000 was raised through a tournament that wasn’t held.

Pretty darn good, considering that’s more than half of the $140,000 in donations raised for local charities and organizations during the 2019 tournament.

“We couldn’t be more happy with the tremendous outpouring of support from players, fans, umpires, local softball associations, and the business community,” said McQuades Tournament Co- Director Mike Wolf. “These funds will still go a long way in providing much-needed support for so many charities and organizations. We’re really excited to get back on track for next year’s tournament.”

The 46th annual tournament is set for June 25-27, 2021 in Bismarck.