WEST SPRINGFIELD — When West Springfield High School girls softball players take the field this spring, they will already have seen thousands of practice pitches fired over home plate by a new pitching machine, and will be wearing crisp new uniforms.

The school was able to buy the machine and uniforms with a $4,500 grant from the Tammy Jacobson-Landon “I Can Hear You Now” Scholarship Fund. Landon had a rare form of endocrine cancer and died five years ago.

A charitable foundation memorializing Tammy Jacobson-Landon recently donated to the West Springfield High School varsity softball team.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

An all-star catcher, Landon played for the West Side varsity team during her entire high school career until she graduated in 1994. She went on to catch for the women’s softball team at Elms College in Chicopee.

“Tammy was a great student, but she was also an excellent athlete,” said her father, Bruce Landon. “She enjoyed the camaraderie and experience of being around the team. She became lifelong friends with a number of the kids she played with, and to this day, a lot them come to fundraising events we have for the foundation.”

Landon recently contacted WSHS Athletic Director Glenn Doulette to see how the scholarship fund could help, and Doulette said the softball team needed a pitching machine and uniforms right away, but didn’t expect funding from the School Department budget for a couple of years.

“This donation was huge,” said Doulette. “Very often there are needs we can’t fund. This was a direct line that benefitted the kids. They’re very gracious and grateful. It’s something that wouldn’t have happened this year, so any kind of extra support is appreciated and accepted.”

The Landons, along with their family and friends, have raised more than $100,000 since establishing the fund in Jacobson-Landon’s memory, and used it to fund educational programs, equipment and scholarships for local schools. The fund has also supported the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center, Meghan’s Light, an organization that supports cystic fibrosis patients and their families, and the Miracle League of Western Massachusetts, which helps children of all abilities play baseball.

“Tammy was a very compassionate person. She didn’t have kids of her own but she loved children. We know she would have been happy that we’re trying to give these kids a chance to play baseball,” said Landon.

“Tammy fought very bravely during her treatments, but it just wasn’t meant to be. She was a fighter right to the end, so we need to do something to keep her memory alive,” said Landon.

Feb. 20 was the fifth anniversary of Tammy Jacobson-Landon’s death. Family members said raising money for the Scholarship Fund and making grants helps raise their spirits — it gives them purpose and helps them through difficult times, like the anniversary of her death.

“This is an emotional time for our family. The grief is always going to be there, but this gives us time to pause and reflect on Tammy and the type of person she was. It brings back good memories, which is what you try to do under these circumstances,” said her father.

Landon, 74, was a hockey star and played goalie for the minor-league Springfield Kings in the early 1960s. Tammy was just two years old when her dad retired from the sport. She helped him write a book about his career, which also included working as an executive for the Springfield Indians, Springfield Falcons and Springfield Thunderbirds hockey teams. She never got to see her dad play, but he was one of her biggest fans when she took the field.

“I followed her softball career in high school and in college. I tried to get to every single game. It wasn’t a matter wins and losses. I just loved watching her compete,” said Landon. “It was fun to sit and watch her play and do what she enjoyed.”

Staasi Heropoulos
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