Charity Softball Game in Scotch Plains Halted by Volunteer Umpire's Death

Mike Ruzek was the volunteer umpire at the Shane Sheppard Softball Classic held at Brookside Park on Sunday. Credits: John Mooney
Banner for the Shane Sheppard Softball Classic. Credits: John Mooney
Steve Sheppard of Scotch Plains organized a softball tournament that raises funds for drug treatment centers. Credits: John Mooney
Fundraiser included tricky trays and silent auction prizes. Credits: John Mooney

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The local community is mourning the death of Scotch Plains resident Mike Ruzek, who suffered a heart attack on Sunday while serving as a volunteer umpire at a charity softball game held at Brookside Park.

"Mike was a faithful supporter of local sports," said longtime friend Bruce Moran. "The community is saddened and shocked at his passing." 

Ruzek was umpiring at the third annual Shane Sheppard Softball Classic, organized by Steve Sheppard in memory of his late son. The game attracted players from Scotch Plains, Westfield and Perth Amboy  The event has raised thousands of dollars for Daytop Village, which provides affordable treatment to adolescents and adults with addiction, and Fern House, a facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, that offers drug-addicted males a supportive, safe, drug and alcohol-free residence where they can develop the life skills that will enable them to lead sober, productive lives.

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