By Monte Lazarus
It was April in March; a balmy day with temperature in the 80’s; an emerald green field awaiting kids and “The Bravest v. The Finest”. Marco Island’s second Community Fun Day was set to go.
Thanks to very generous sponsors, the two hosts of the day – the Marco Island Fire- Rescue Foundation and the Marco Island Police Foundation – were able to set up the day and to provide food and beverages at rather remarkably low prices. Where can you get a hot dog for $2 these days? The largest sponsor was the Marriott Hotels and Resorts. They donated $1,000 to rank as the “Grand Slam” sponsor. At $500 were Cocomo’s Bar and Grill, Mutual of Omaha Bank, CJ’s on the Bay, Coastal Beverage, Coastal Breeze News, DSA/CAT, Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa, Stan’s Idle Hour and Sunshine Stitchers. $250 sponsors were The Arlington of Naples, Tom Cretella, Hodges-Josberger Funeral Home, the Laimbeer Family, Pyramid Janitorial Supplies and Publix. There were a number of $100 sponsors: Advanced Insurance Underwriters, Bill Filbin III, Darcie Guerin of Raymond James Associates, Iberia Bank, Knights of Columbus, Kretch’s Restaurant, Sandi and Monte Lazarus, M&I Bank, Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce, Marco Movies, Joan and George Schroll and Gail Schultz.
Dianna Dohm, President of the Fire & Rescue Foundation and Dick Shanahan of the Police Foundation joined in thanking the sponsors for their contributions, stating: “This is a day of fun for the entire community; a day when everyone can kick back, enjoy the wonders of Marco Island, and appreciate our wonderful first responders for keeping us safe and well.” All proceeds from the game are divided equally between the foundations to be used to help first responders in need, furnish some scholarships (Police Foundation) and secure some important equipment such as bulletproof vests for the police.
The first treat of the day, at 11AM, was the Marco Island Charter Middle School Jazz Band. Early arrivals were treated to a medley of familiar, great tunes. After the jazzy warm up, kids from the Cal Ripken League played a two inning exhibition game. They batted against a pitching machine and showed off some pretty snazzy uniforms representing major league baseball teams. Meanwhile the Fire-Rescue had some fun by setting up a defibrillator in the Police dugout. The cops retaliated by surrounding the Fire-Rescue dugout with crime scene tape.
The stage was set for the second annual “Bravest [Fire-Rescue Department] v. Finest [Police Department] softball game. There was a sobering moment of silence for firefighter Jerry Adams, who passed away in February, followed by the invocation and the National Anthem sung by Cheryl Ferrara. Instead of a traditional coin toss to decide who would be the “home team” City Council Chairman Jerry Gibson tossed a doughnut (with a bite missing courtesy of the Police), and the Police took the field to the familiar call of “Play Ball!”
For devotees, or the Fire- Rescue team, the game did not start well. A series of consecutive walks and a fielding mistake staked the Police to a quick five run lead. Sergio DeLeon, a spectacular shortstop, hit an early home run to keep the Fire-Rescue team close. From then on it was a tight game, punctuated by some outstanding fielding in both infields and outfields. Kevin Hennings made a great throw from center field to nail a runner at third base, and left fielder Jason Nachtrab made a beautiful diving, tumbling catch. Ed Stamm was solid at third. Going into the eighth inning the Police held onto a four run lead. That’s big time in baseball, but precarious in slow pitch softball. Fire-Rescue came banging back with a huge rally and took a 12-9 lead going into the last of the eighth. Notwithstanding a few walks in the eighth and ninth innings the Police were unable to come back, and the Fire- Rescue team won for the second year.
There were a couple of beautiful and noteworthy things about the game: the respect the teams had for each other, and their camaraderie; the exuberance and joy of being out there playing the game; the bringing together of folks who came out to enjoy the kids, the game and each other.
MARCO ISLAND FIRE & RESCUE ROSTER
Ken Alford, Dave Batiato, Dustin Beatty, Chris Bowden, Chris Byrne, Chris Crossan, Sergio DeLeon, Steve Hagmann, Dean Heasley, Christian Holmes, Don Jones, Jeffery Kutzke, Chief Mike Murphy, Pat O’Gorman, Jim Pope, Ken Stenback.
MARCO ISLAND POLICE ROSTER
Pete Beucler, Alan Brown, Andy Delgado, Joshua Ferris, Matt Goetz, Kevin Hennings, Chief Don Hunter, Frank Linkenberg, Jason Nachtrab, Nick Ojanovac, Al Schettino, Tony Spina, Ed Stamm, Frank Steiger, Michael Vogel.
Frank Carchietta, Bill Kaschuba, Skip Kendall and Dave Coward.