Page 41 - October 2021
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 game and even throw out the first pitch. I was honored to catch Carlos’ first pitch and be part of that moment. That...and the game in general will be something I will never forget.”
Recapping the game, Macias quickly pointed out how much the firefighters have improved since the teams met two years ago. The Bravest jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and the CFD’s young hurler kept the Finest off balance until the fourth inning. That’s when, with two outs and the bases loaded, Will Mu- noz singled up the middle to drive in a pair to give the Finest a 2-1 lead.
“I had come up earlier in the game with runners in scoring position and wasn’t able to come through. The second time, I just told myself to stay simple. We just needed to get on the board to bring our team to life and energize the crowd,” Munoz explained. “Thankfully, I was able to get a fastball in a good situation that I could take back up the middle.”
CFD didn’t go away, though, tying the game in the fifth. The game only stayed knotted 2-2 until the bottom of the frame, when the Finest’s Kevin Sweeney drove in the eventual game-winning run. The pitchers dominated the rest of the way on a cool night on the South Side.
“There was no moment too big for us,” Macias said of how the Finest stayed fo- cused to earn the win on a such a mean- ingful night.
Munoz noted that this year’s game felt different for a number of reasons.
“The loss the Department just faced really hit home for a lot of us, especially those of us with similar time on the job as Officer French, Officer Yanez and Officer Blas,” said Munoz, a four-year veteran who is assigned to the community safety team where French, Yanez and Blas also worked. “Some of us on the team knew
A combined CPD and CFD pipes and drums band entertains during the game.
 [French], and it meant a lot to go out there to really dedicate this game, not only in her memory, but to all the fans, family and colleagues in attendance.”
And for another fan, who appeared on the Jumbotron before the game wearing his Finest jersey.
“It was a special night knowing Yanez Jr. was watching us [online], his family in the stands and Officer French’s mother, as well,” Munoz added. “We knew as a team we were going to do whatever we needed to do to bring home a win for them. It definitely energized us.”
The results were positive on anoth- er front, as the Finest raised $68,000 for CPMF, according to Macias. He said the August shooting of French and Yanez provided perspective to the team, which understands its role to support CPMF and the important work it does for offi-
cers and their families.
“It’s a wake-up call,” Macias said of the
shooting. “It makes every one of my guys realize they have to step up.”
And the players do that for one anoth- er.
“We have faced a lot of difficulties in our career, especially this past year,” Neufeld said. “We have lost a lot of time with our family and loved ones, so com- ing out and competing with not only your friends, but your brothers in blue, definitely helps take your mind off the job.”
Added Munoz, “Baseball is a great way for all of us to come together a few times a week and really put away all of the stress that comes with the job. We’re not just coworkers and teammates; we con- sider each other family.”

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