Girls softball tournament held in honor of Midgley and Padgett

Tribute to fathers, youth sports advocates lost to cancer in 2021|

The legacies of two of the Valley’s most dedicated youth sports advocates will be honored this month, as the inaugural Eric Padgett & Bob Midgley Strikeout Cancer Memorial Tournament takes place in Sonoma.

The girls softball tournament is set for Oct. 15 and 16, with games taking place at the Field of Dreams, 151 First St. W., and Ernie Smith Community Park, 18776 Gillman Drive.

The event is named in honor of Padgett and Midgley, both of whom lost their lives to cancer in 2021.

Eric’s wife, Jessica Padgett, said that October being the month most associated with cancer awareness – it’s officially Breast Cancer Awareness month – she and the late-Bob Midgley’s wife, Stacey, thought the event would be a good way to reflect their husband’s dedication to “giving back to youth.”

“They both gave so much time for youth sports (and) the proceeds will go to the league to help other families with costs,” said Jessica Padgett. The Padgetts and Midgleys have daughters who play in the Sonoma Valley Girls Softball Association – their team is the Sonoma Revolution – and profits from the tournament will go toward the league’s scholarship program, as well as for the purchase of equipment.

The league features traveling teams, she said, which can make it a more costly league for families to take part in. When Eric served as league president, he was particularly committed to promoting the scholarship program.

“Money should never be an issue for kids to play,” said Jessica. “We’re just trying to keep that going.”

Bob Midgley, a longtime coach of the Sonoma Valley Dragons high school football team, died at age 54 in January of 2021 following a brief bout with cancer. A former award-winning offensive lineman for the Dragons in the 1980s, Midgley went on to teach and coach at his alma mater for 25 years.

Eric Padgett, a firefighter at the Eldridge Fire Department and a public safety officer at the Yountville Veterans Home, succumbed to pancreatic cancer in November of 2021. He was 38. Though in public safety by trade, Eric was active in local swim programs, a member of the nonprofit Field of Dreams board of directors, president of the Sonoma Valley Girls Softball Association and, when his older kids transitioned to Justin-Siena High School, a regular scorekeeper at softball and football games.

The tournament officially kicks off with a single game Friday at 5 p.m., with the rest of the games taking place Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Last games start at 5 p.m.) Nineteen teams are taking part with participants ranging in age from 7 to 12. Softball teams from around the Bay Area and beyond signed on to take part, said Jessica. The entire community is invited to come down and watch the games.

“This is the first time we’ve done a fall tournament,” Jessica said. “We have one team from Canada, which is pretty cool.”

With daughters of similar ages involved in so many youth sports over the years, the Midgley and Padgett families became “pretty close,” said Jessica.

“Stacey and I are single moms now, we do things together and spend time together - just getting through it,” she said.

They’ll be getting through it together this weekend, by carrying on the legacies of their husbands, and helping to ensure participation in their softball program is possible for every girl in the Valley.

“There are so many kids in our Valley that can’t afford it,” said Jessica. “But everybody should get a shot to play.”

Volunteers are still needed for the snack bar. Sign up to help at!/showSignUp/5080F4FABAA23AAFF2-eric.

Email Jason at

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