A team of local law enforcement officers put down their badges and picked up their gloves for a few hours Saturday to participate in America’s pastime.
The Iron Pigs took on the Red Sox on Saturday at a mostly empty Avista Stadium. Despite a cold breeze and a steady drizzle, the two Inland Northwest Men’s Baseball League teams took to the field for an exhibition doubleheaderheaderThe Iron Pigs are made up mostly of Spokane County Sheriff’s Office members, with other team members from Spokane Valley Fire, active-duty military and Washington State Patrol troopers.
The team’s motto? “Crushing curveballs and crime, just not at the same time.”
Though the officers keep their cellphones handy in case crime strikes, sheriff’s operations manager Mark Nygren said playing on the team is an opportunity to escape the life-and-death situations of their day jobs and do something they love. Nygren is a sergeant on Spokane Valley patrol.
“You’ve got to have a love for the game,” Nygren said, before shouting at the gray sky, “Stop raining!”
Saturday’s games won’t count toward each team’s overall win-loss record. The season’s over, and the Iron Pigs are headed to next week’s league playoffs with a 4-8 record. The Red Sox, a new team this year, aren’t so lucky – the team only won one game.
But Nygren said they didn’t want to stop playing just yet.
Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” could be heard across the infield as the clouds broke for a moment and a player began singing. Players on each team traded positions when they were bored with theirs. A few wives keeping score in the stands wrote only the players’ first names on their scorecards.
Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Martone watched as his teammates rounded the bases.
“Some guys are pretty competitive,” Martone said. “Most of us just play to have fun.”
“You better be competitive,” hollered back Glenn Buie, who serves in the Air Force. A wide smile stretched across his face.
The Iron Pigs defeated the Red Sox in both games, 5-4 and 6-3.
Red Sox player Dan Manella said losing doesn’t matter to those who love the game.
“Everybody’s here for a reason,” Manella said. “They want to play baseball.”
High in the stands, Mindy Nygren and Nancy Murphey huddled in raincoats, watching their husbands play in the mud.
“It’s a great hobby for them,” Nygren said. “It’s something they look forward to.”
Nygren looked down as her husband shouted her name. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich was visiting for a few minutes and needed a program. She scampered down the stands, with programs and team baseball cards in tow.
The program thanks “our spouses for their support, patience and for allowing us to pursue our first love: Baseball!!!”
“We’re out here in – it’s 58 degrees in the rain,” said Murphey, whose husband, Mike Murphey, plays on the team. “I guess we do support it.”