Benefit baseball: Fire beats Police in Guns & Hoses renewal
By Dick Goss email@example.com August 22, 2011 8:16PM
Joliet Fire Department's #4 Joe Krupa is safe at home on a pass ball as the Joliet Police Department pitcher #41 Tony Lakota can not get to the ball and the firemen won 11-2 in the 9th annual Guns and Hoses charity game for Easter Seals also the fireman played this game for Lt. Terry Foster who lost his life Friday night in a traffic accident and would have played in tonights game held at Silver Cross Field on Sunday, August 21, 2011. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2011 12:30AM
JOLIET — Their hearts were heavy, but they played.
Shocked by the news of the motorcycle accident that claimed the life of 39-year-old Joliet Fire Department Lt. Terry Foster, his buddies and coworkers at the fire department and his friends in the Joliet Police Department faced a difficult decision.
Do they cancel the annual Guns & Hoses baseball game for the benefit of the Easter Seals Joliet Region Pediatric Center, or do they play?
They decided to do what Foster would have wanted. They played as scheduled Sunday evening at Silver Cross Field.
The firemen continued their domination with an 11-2 victory, their eighth win in nine years. The other game ended in a tie.
“I got very close to him. He was my lieutenant at the station house,” fireman Nate Kren said of Foster, who was the Fire’s regular catcher in this game and also a regular participant in the annual Police & Fire Ryder Cup golf matches in early summer. “He was a heck of a guy.
“He would have wanted us to come out here and beat the cops for him.”
“He was the kind of guy everyone liked,” said the Fire’s Eric Mattson, who worked the public address system along with the Police’s Pat Schumacher. “Old guys, young guys, it didn’t matter. Everyone could relate to him and liked talking to him.”
“Nine years for this game and this was the first year without him,” the Fire’s Jim Batusich said. “It was a hard decision, but we decided to play on.”
He shook his head and added, “The police were in the same situation several years ago.”
Batusich was referring to officer John Walsh, who died in the line of duty Aug. 20, 2004, two days before that year’s game.
“The similarity is eerie,” Schumacher said.
Foster’s fire gear was draped over the south end of the third-base dugout while his teammates did their thing. Kren, Jim Lukanicic, Nick Nahas, Ryan Brenczewski and Joe Krupa were among those delivering big hits. Jim Boyd, Nahas, Batusich and Brad North pitched for the Fire, who for good measure flashed some significant leather defensively.
The Police used Tom Cleaves, Joe Rosado, Tony Lakota and Chuck Masolino on the mound. Lakota delivered what at the time was a big two-run single to center field, and he took a nasty spill over a sliding runner as he covered the plate on a wild pitch.
“I wasn’t going to play today, but then we had a couple other guys who couldn’t play, so I did,” said Rosado, a best friend of Foster since the two were in high school together. They graduated from Joliet Central in 1990.
“Terry and I and James Rouse, we’ve all been close since high school.”
What about getting out there on the mound?
“Colt League 1988. That was the last time I pitched,” Rosado said. “Chuck (Masolino) and I had to step up to the plate and fill the void.
“They (firemen) are a great bunch of guys. It’s always fun to play against them. The most fun, though, was the third and fourth innings, when Nahas and I were out there going at each other, pitching at batting practice speeds. As long as you throw strikes, right?”
The big winner on this day, as always, is Easter Seals. Deb Strahanoski, the development manager for the Joliet Region of Easter Seals and sister of the Police’s Joe Egizio, could not have been more thankful.
“The policemen and firemen always help us out at our telethon, too, and this baseball event helps us keep our services and programs going,” she said. “We don’t want to close any of our programs.
“There’s a nice crowd here (the 50-50 raffle collected $800), and many of our adult clients are here enjoying the game. It’s a great night. We’ve had this game at times when it’s been 100 degrees, but tonight the weather is perfect.”
Terry Foster would have enjoyed it.