Battle of the Badge fundraiser slated

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WALLA WALLA — The lines are being drawn in the Borleske Stadium infield as local law enforcement and firefighters prepare to face off in Battle of the Badge on June 1.

The Walla Walla Sweets, partnering with the IAFF Local 404 and the Walla Walla Police Association, brings fans a start to the 2013 West Coast League baseball season when the local police and fire departments suit up and take to the field to raise funds for local charities in a seven-inning baseball game scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.

“We’ve been working with the fire department and law enforcement agencies to put together a great event, and we’re all very excited to make the announcement and prepare the teams for June 1,” said Sweets assistant general manager J.C. Biagi.

Each team will be coached by members of the Sweets coaching staff, with manager J.C. Biagi at the helm for law enforcement and Sweets pitching coach Mark Michaud leading the firefighters.

Players will prepare for the event with weekly practices to help individuals hone their skills.

The teams have already started preparing, and a fair amount of friendly banter has already been taking place.

“There are a number of events throughout the country every year where law enforcement and fire departments compete for charities, but playing baseball is unprecedented,” said Biagi. “They’ve all committed to putting in a lot of work over the next several months to prepare, and I think fans will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of effort and play that’s on display June 1.”

Ticket sales began Monday, with the officers competing to sell the most tickets and a lot at stake for the winner. Each department will be out in the community selling tickets to the event, as well as a ticket package that includes an official Battle of the Badge T-shirt.

Supporters can choose sides by purchasing either a red shirt to show loyalty toward the firefighters or a blue shirt in support of law enforcement.

The top-selling team will receives home-field advantage, use of the Sweets clubhouse, and bragging rights.

“I’m looking forward to June 1st,” said Walla Walla firefighter and paramedic Matt Ricks. “I think the gamesmanship between the fire department and police department from now until the final score on the 1st is going to be a lot of fun. But no matter who wins between us, the Valley that supports us all wins in the long run.”

Competition will be fierce on the field as well, as each department is playing for a cause, with a portion of total event sales benefitting local charities.

The game-winner will receive 60 percent of the total proceeds for their charity, with the loser taking 40 percent.

Firefighters will be playing for the Walla Walla YMCA Youth Sustaining Campaign, as well as the Walla Walla Valley Girls Softball Association. Law enforcement will play to benefit the Walla Walla Area Crime Watch.

“It’s great to be able to compete against our brothers from the fire department and share this event with the community,” said police officer Dan Lackey. “To be able to bring money into an organization like Crime Watch and see it go directly back out to our area neighborhoods is amazing. We look forward to putting on a show and having a great time with the people we serve here in Walla Walla.”

“The fire department realizes that the youth are our future, and promoting physical fitness to our youth is key for building healthy communities,” said Ricks. “Supporting the Walla Walla YMCA Youth Sustaining Campaign is a great way to encourage and provide opportunities for kids of all ages and backgrounds to be active, develop their confidence, and experience the world around them.”

Battle of the Badge tickets are on sale now, and are available from local officers and firefighters.

Diamond and Premier seats are $15 each, and all other ticket inventory will be sold as General Admission seating for $12.

The ticket and T-shirt package is available for $20, and T-shirts can be purchased separately for $15.

For more information about the event and to purchase tickets, contact Vicki Ruley at 509-527-4434 (law enforcement) or Judy Jerome at 509-527-4429 (firefighters).

Diamond and Premier seats are only available for sale at the Sweets Shoppe, so to purchase seats behind home plate contact the Walla Walla Sweets at 509-522-BALL.

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