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January 19, 2018

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

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Western High baseball team gets it right with tribute to fallen player


Christopher DeVargas

Former Western HS baseball player and local attorney Jeff Sylvester spoke to this year’s team about the importance of education and staying on a righteous path, Tuesday, May 1, 2012. Jeff’s brother, who also played for Western, was stabbed to death in the 1980’s after a basketball game.

Gregory Sylvester Memorial Field

Western High School's baseball field is dedicated to former player Gregory Sylvester, who was stabbed to death in the 1980s after a basketball game. A scoreboard donated by the family, in Greg's honor, was recently installed. Launch slideshow »

Last year I wrote about the Western High baseball team’s improbable upset against local power Sierra Vista.

Western is located in one of Las Vegas’ worst neighborhoods. The school’s athletes don’t enjoy the financial backing of the teams they compete against, and most people in town are dismissive of the school and its students. But I couldn’t help silently cheering for this group of seasonal players.

Turns out that game was just one of the many good things happening each afternoon on the Western diamond. I wish everyone could have seen what happened at Western’s game Monday against Faith Lutheran.

It had little to do with the final score.

That’s because Tommy Krier, who was the only person willing to coach the team when he was hired four years ago, is one of the good guys in local high school sports. He gets it: Winning and losing defines success to some but isn’t the only standard by which his team is judged.

This will tell you a lot about Krier: Last year, he organized a ceremony to rededicate the field in honor of Greg Sylvester, a former player who was murdered before his senior season in 1981. When Krier got the job, he took to social media looking for a donation for a scoreboard in Greg Sylvester’s honor.

That’s when Jeff Sylvester, a local attorney and Greg’s brother, reached out and agreed to pay for the renovations. His brother was stabbed to death in the parking lot after a Western basketball game and the family was thrilled someone remembered. After all, through coaching changes, a decline in the program and school, and the field being constructed in a different direction over the years, Krier initially didn’t realize the field was named after someone.

Thanks to Krier, nobody will forget.

Now fast forward to Monday: Jeff Sylvester returned to Western to watch his son, Faith Lutheran sophomore catcher Greg Sylvester (named after Jeff’s brother), play against Western.

It happened to be the anniversary of his uncle’s death, and the first time Faith Lutheran and Western had played against each other.

When Jeff Sylvester arrived at the game with his mother, he couldn’t help noticing the T-shirts the Western players were wearing for warmups. On the back was Greg’s No. 2 and "Sylvester." The gesture overwhelmed Jeff and his mother with emotion.

In fact, Western didn’t have the shirts made only for the Faith Lutheran game. The team wears them at every game to honor the family.

People who follow high school sports in this town can try to dismiss Western, but this team epitomizes the kind of classiness that can define our community and makes me proud.

“The whole Sylvester family was there, and what a wonderful family they are,” Krier wrote in an email. “I am truly happy that the field means so much to them and gives them great joy. We wear the shirts as our warmup and undershirts during the game. Thought it was a cool way to remember Greg Sylvester.”

Faith Lutheran won the game 7-2 and Greg Sylvester had a hit and an RBI, but that was secondary for all. Following the game, the Western players took off their jerseys to reveal the Sylvester T-shirts and walked over to greet the family.

Both teams were winners on this night.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at

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