MARSHALL - The first time the "Whopper Night" fundraiser was held at Legion Field back in 1988, Eric Luther said he wasn't sure if it would catch on.
"The first couple years, you just see how it goes," said Luther, the owner of the Burger King in Marshall.
It turned out he didn't need to worry.
Photo by Deb Gau
The recognizable Whopper trailer has been Eric Luther’s home away from work for the past 25 years.
Whopper Night, which raises money for Marshall's youth baseball programs, will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next week. This year, organizers are adding a variety of activities to the burger feed and Marshall A's baseball game to mark the occasion.
Whopper Night starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Legion Field. A $4 ticket can be turned in for a Whopper with chips and a pop, and for kids there will be a wiffleball home run contest, a visit from the Great Plains Zoo, an inflatable maze and more. At 7:30, the Marshall A's will play the Sacred Heart Saints.
"We hope it makes it a big event, a nice celebration," Luther said.
Luther said the first Whopper Night was something of an experiment. He and members of Marshall Community Services and the Marshall Baseball Association began talking about holding a celebration for young baseball players and community members. Luther said it was both a good opportunity for the then brand-new Marshall Burger King, and a chance to do something good for the town.
"We've been very grateful that Eric Luther and Burger King have been able to help us out," said Cam Bailey, recreation coordinator at Marshall Community Services. "Any time you do something for 25 years, that's a longtime, traditional program," he said.
All the proceeds from Whopper Night help pay for updated equipment and other costs for the city's youth T-ball and baseball programs, Bailey said.
"The money goes for a good cause, and it's a family-oriented event," Luther said. That's likely a big part of why Whopper Night's kept going so long, he said.
Another important part of Whopper Night has been the opportunity for local kids to get to play on Legion Field. T-ball and junior baseball players volunteer to pre-sell tickets for the burger feed, and the teams that sell the most get to take the field before the A's game. Luther and Bailey said part of the fun of the event is the possibility of inspiring new generations of baseball players.
"I think the young players really get excited," Luther said. "Maybe they'll want to play on the A's someday."