Page 40 - October 2021
P. 40

  After Elizabeth French throws out the first pitch prior to the annual Chicago Finest vs. Chicago Bravest game, Finest Manager Vincent Macias embraces her.
F ield of Emotions
Chicago Police Finest win one against CFD Bravest for Ella, Carlos and Josh
Chicago Police Finest Manager Vin- cent Macias knew Ella French as a friend, but also as a true example of the “working police,” someone he will tell his daughter about as she grows up.
It’s that connection that made Ma- cias’s moment with Ella’s mother, Eliza- beth French, so difficult as they met be- fore the Finest renewed its annual rivalry series with the CFD Bravest at Guaran- teed Rate Field on Sept. 23. A teary Ma- cias embraced French, who wore a Finest jersey emblazoned with her daughter’s badge number.
“Her mother has been amazing. It was tough to talk with her,” Macias shared, acknowledging how the emotion also struck his team deeply during the pre- game meeting with French. “For one moment, you’re giving up that bravado attitude and letting your emotions go. We’re all human.”
The Finest and Bravest returned to the diamond for the first time since 2019 just weeks after an offender opened fire on Ella French and her partner, Carlos Yanez Jr., during an early-August traffic stop. French, just 29, died of her injuries, while Yanez was critically wounded.
The charity baseball game always serves as an opportunity for the Finest to pay tribute to the fallen and raise money for the Chicago Police Memorial Foun- dation (CPMF). This night, however, car-
Elizabeth French, Joshua Blas and Carlos Yanez Sr. with the CPD Finest baseball team.
 ried even greater importance beyond the outcome — a 3-2 Finest comeback victo- ry — because of how fresh the pain of the loss remains.
“Being able to play for the French and Yanez families was truly an honor. It was really an emotional game for us. We knew what we were playing for and especially who we were playing for,” said Officer Alex Neufeld, who works midnights in the 3rd District and patrols the outfield in his first year with the Finest.
Elizabeth French, Carlos Yanez Sr. and
Officer Josh Blas each threw out ceremo- nial first pitches, with French earning big cheers from the crowd of 11,000 for what everyone agreed was the best of the efforts. A recovering Carlos Yanez Jr. ap- peared on video to give a thumbs-up, to the vocal appreciation of the crowd.
“Seeing Ella’s mom and Carlos’ dad show up with big smiles and positive at- titudes at the game was extremely inspir- ing,” Neufeld noted. “For what they have gone through, it took a huge amount of strength and heart to come out to our

   38   39   40   41   42