It was a new year, at a new location, but all the feelings and spirits of camaraderie remained intact for this year’s Lane Kemper Classic Softball Tournament. Held on July 21, 2021 at the beautiful Chino Hills Field of Dreams complex, nearly two dozen teams from throughout the City battled it out for the covenant 1st place trophy. The real winner, however, was the WODFF, but the winning team still carries bragging rights as being the team to beat next year!
People started gathering early, especially Valerie Lawrence and her team of volunteers as they set up the venue for all to enjoy. An early wake up thanks goes out to now retired Captain Steve Berkery for picking up the trailer and hauling all the required gear down to the complex in time for the event. The Relief’s Chris Stine and Juliet Brandolino were there working on getting the details of accepting funds in order. With everything in place for distribution, the donated items began to fill the tables at the entrance of the complex for all to see and bid on. although at the time of this press amounts raised were not known, the generosity of the vendors and participating stations went beyond measures. I was even told the big winner of the 50/50 raffle donated their winnings back to the WODDF—what a class act.
With the gates to the park now open, the teams in their colorful shirts starting filing in one by one. Stand out to this observer was Fire Station 14’s shirt, with the COVID team coming in second for design art. This was a great family event as some players brought their hometown cheering squads with them—even pets were allowed, others just brought themselves straight from the station after working a long night shift in the City of Angels—thanks for the effort to all that attended.
Photos were in full swing, evident by all the pictures displayed in this article. An effort was made to get all teams captured digitally. We apologize if you don’t see your picture here. We did our best! With the formalities out of the way, the event began with all involved situated on one field. Master of Ceremonies and the MAN in Charge—Captain II Keith Bandy was mic’ed up and began the presentation of the rules and regulations that would be followed that day. Though he had a little technical difficulty at first, Judd Ream from Station 21 jumped into action and lent him not only one but both hands—teamwork! Next, Bryan Newon came up and said a quick prayer over the day’s play, followed by an electronic version of the national anthem that was less than complemental for our great nation—please, someone step up next year! Game time came next. Some of the first teams up wasted no time charging the field and earning runs for their teams. 66 took on 11, while 58 started with Station 14. Stations 46 and 10 battled, with 10 coming out on top of the first meeting. Stations 15 and 65 also squared off working up a sweat—65 drawing first blood with a win. To say it was a hot day would be an understatement, however, the complex was well stocked with cold drinks and food for all. Thankfully some shade was available here and there, allowing the players to cool down a bit between games.
As the day progressed, so did the play of the day, especially in the final four match-ups. There, Station 29 took on Station 64. The crew from 10811 Main Street nearly pulled it off but Travis Rice from 29s made a game-saving catch sending the game into extra innings where they, the two-nine finished it on top 16 to 13. The other twosome, Stations 46 and 14 was not as close, with the underdogs from FS 46 taking the decision 17 to 1—OUCH! With the afternoon now seeing its final hours, the final battle was now set. The scrappy youth from Station 46 were up against the powerhouse of Station 29. Things started out as one would expect when playing a seasoned team like the crew from 29. By the bottom of the 6th inning, the crew from the house of pain was feeling like they were at work with 29s holding a commanding lead of 5 to 2. After holding the leaders to a no-run 7th, however, 46s confidence returned and by the end of it, the little engine that could did, overtaking the competition and winning the final game 7-5.
We want to acknowledge all the members that participated in the games whether you played or not—especially the volunteers who made this event happen. Once again thank you to Keith Bandy and Valerie Lawrence for their tireless commitment to excellence year after year. Lastly, congratulations to this year’s victors and champs—Fire Station 46—well played. 1st base—Gatewood, 2nd Base—La Pastora, Short Stop—Sandoval, 3rd base—Tebo, Pitcher—Phelps, Catcher—Ornelas, L Field—Rosso, L Center Field—Martinez, R Center—Romo, and R Field—Herrera. Lane, you are not forgotten!