Northeast Range, Ely Gather to Honor Mathson
Former BEST Baseball Star Died in 2015
The BEST (Babbitt-Emabarrass/Soudan-Tower) Beavers returned to the baseball diamond, albeit for only one day. Recently, Northeast Range and Ely wore BEST throwback jerseys in tribute to fomer BEST star Josh Mathson. who died in a car accident in Texas, April 4th, 2015.
“We’ve never retired a uniform before, but we felt it was fitting,” said Northeast Range baseball coach Joe Scherer. “We’ll retire our #7 from Northeast Range. It’s a different school now, but we’re retiring that jersey.”
Babbitt-Embarrass and Tower-Soudan consolidated in to Northeast Range in 2011, eight years after Josh graduated. He also starred for the Ely American Legion team, which retired his No. 12 last summer.
“Josh was an outstanding player for the BEST team and Ely Legion team.,” said Scherer. “Still holds records for the state.”
Mathson’s page in the Minnesota State High School League record book includes career marks in home runs (32), runs batted in (170) and walks (102). Those are numbers that left a legacy on the Iron Range.
“Kids still talk about him today,” said Scherer. “He was a guy that hit the ball, you didn’t have to look at it, you just heard it and you knew it was gone.”
“His talent spoke volumes, he was the kind of guy on a baseball field that could turn a game around in one swing,” said Ely assistant coach Tom Coombe, who was Mathson’s head coach for both BEST and Ely American Legion. “Off the field, I called him a bit of a gentle giant. He was fun–loving, he was a great teammate. Not very often do you coach players who are not only great on the field, they’re great teammates as well. That to me is what really made Josh stand out and stand apart. A fitting tribute to a heck of a player, a heck of a young man.”
Matshson’s mother Tammi was comforted by familiar people and surroundings.
“These guys are all familiar faces, it’s nice to see some of his teammates come back and honor him,” said Mathson. “And this ballpark is just home.”
Mathson’s life ended far too soon, but for Northeast Range and Ely, his legacy will live on.