Like the federal government, LAFD management has taken a beating lately for things that it has or hasn’t done . . . or said it will or will not do . . . from those who have to carry out the tasks at hand. And like true Americans, LAFD members cowboy-up with the given tools, training and time, and endeavor to do the right thing. During the recent Captain I badge pinning ceremony held at the Firefighter’s Museum, the Fire Chief identified the two things firemen hate most:
1) They don’t like change
2) They don’t like the way things are.
True that! From there he went on to challenge the newest wave of LAFD officers to do the right thing – lead by example and advocate the mission of the department. Oh yeah, don’t forget the wants and needs of your crew, whims of your B/C, the political correctness of the department and city managers and the public who demand and deserve professional service. I wonder what Lane Kemper thinks when he looks down on the circus?
On May 21, 2014 the annual Lane Kemper Softball Classic took place. Hopefully, when Lane looks down on the one day we set aside for fun and camaraderie, with a little charity on the side, he smiles and gives us a thumbs up. Lane’s legacy lives on in the softball tourney that bears his name and the firefighting techniques he developed and promoted in his training seminars. Lane had his beefs with the establishment and some of its characters but never let them hinder his passion for living, helping someone in need or having fun with his fire department friends. This is the spirit we aim to keep alive by continuing the day of fun in the form of the Lane Kemper Softball Classic. That being said, let’s recap the festivities and thank the folks who helped make it happen.
The biggest hiccup this year was the date change. Remember that thing about firemen hating change? Well, the decision wasn’t made lightly. And there was plenty of logistical “shuffling” to get it to happen. But you all stepped up, again, and the end result was a much cooler day for competition and less teams defaulting due to LAFD extreme weather deployment issues. As it happened, we only had one team less than originally planned. Thanks for being flexible and thanks to the teams who donated lost entry fees to Widows and Orphans.
Other “changes” this year included a new complex and playing two “fun” games, giving everyone a chance to play at the main venue prior to elimination. The new fields worked out well with a central area suited for refreshment, rest and the raffle. Unseen to the players was the extreme difficulty trying to bracket the competition with an uneven number of teams and without full team rosters ahead of time. Hopefully, everyone got a little more play time which translated into more fun and camaraderie and a fair shot at advancing. For the powerhouse teams, the formula was simple – just keep scoring more runs than the other team and show up for the next game.
There were around 25 teams from all areas of the city and MFC, although the North Division stations were markedly under represented. Interestingly, there was a confirmed sighting of the highest ranking officer in the Valley rubbing shoulders with the workers. Nice gesture, chief. Thanks.
Obviously, some teams came to win while others seemed content to simply enjoy a taste of friendly firehouse fun without interference from any book, memo or directive. Competition this year was intense with no surprises in the late rounds of play. 46’s, 15’s, 64’s and 33’s showed plenty of grit late in the day. The all- Battalion 13 final four resulted in last year’s champs 46’s being eliminated by 33‘s. Then, perennial favorite 15’s lost a heartbreaker in the semifinal which left the young, strong teams from 64’s and 33’s to duke it out in the championship game. It was close and hard fought but only one team can be the winner and this year the trophy and bragging rights go to 33’s. Congratulations. It’s good to be young and strong! Just remember that thing about firemen and change. P.S. The cooler over the coach thing needs a little work.
Hopefully the Lane Kemper Softball Classic 2014 was a healthy dose of fun and camaraderie for all. Now is the time to thank those who helped make it happen. Lane always shunned the spotlight but was gracious and appreciative of those who helped him. There is a lot of effort behind the scenes and preliminary work that goes into the event and many people are responsible for its success. The list is long and there is no way to thank everyone by name but certain people who volunteer their time and energy and talents and property to keep the tradition alive need to be acknowledged.
Arguably, the biggest challenge is keeping the troops fed and “hydrated”. Again, Mark Curry did a stellar job coordinating the tactical task force of BBQ’s and producing mass quantities of great tasting grub. Thanks also to Greg Pascola and Eric Stephens for your equipment and services and all those who helped serve. The other huge challenge is getting quality umpires to come out and risk life and limb while making accurate and unbiased judgement calls without having to invoke the “no guff” rule. Thank you all for your bravery, especially ironmen Doak Smith and Craig Fletcher for staying to the end.
By far, the most extra-curricular activity surrounds the raffle which is the passion of Valerie Lawrence. She is assisted by Mona Romas and Rebecca Stephens with tons of help from the LAFRA staffers and others. From the tens or hundreds of dollars raised in the old days we now contribute many thousands of dollars to the Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firemen’s Fund. And the quality and quantity of raffle prizes increases each year.
Thank you, Valerie.
Thank you to Galloway and First Investors for your generous donation and support.
Thank you, Jennifer Frain for your beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.
Thank you, Hoy Talbott for your support and generous donations.
Thank you, Mona and Steve Romas, again for allowing us to impose on your family and home for support and storage.
Thanks, Bill Bringas for keeping the dream alive.
Thank you, Keith Bandy for agreeing to carry the torch for a while. Have you any clue how arduous a journey your grooming-by-Bringas will be? You may begin recruiting helpers, just be wary of personal friends and relatives.
THANK YOU! To all who participated in the Lane Kemper Softball Classic 2014.
By Jim Stiglich