Softball game pits police vs. firefighters


Wade Stadium was filled with softball fans last week for an unusual game: for once, both teams had home field advantage. The Duluth Police and Duluth Fire department teams faced off for the Eighth Annual Guns 'n' Hoses game.

"The whole purpose of this game is to get out and use the camaraderie and rivalry between the police and fire department to get people to come out and raise some money and have some fun, of course," said Sgt. Matt McShane of the Duluth Police Department.

The event is a fundraiser for the Northern Lights Foundation, which grants wishes and distributes funds that address the needs and wishes of Northland children, and their families, with life-threatening medical conditions. Since its inception in 2006, the Northern Lights Foundation has granted more than $250,000 to families in need. McShane worked with Northern Lights founder Dr. Ken Larson back in 2007 to start the fundraiser.

"I was really involved in the police softball team, so we got together and came up with this event. Eight years later, we've raised a lot of money and couldn't be happier with how it's helped," McShane said.

In those eight years, the police team has managed to win every game. Firefighter and team manager Heath Wiersma hoped to change that this year. However, with the final score of 21 to 11 in favor of the police department, it did not happen this year.

"We always beat them where it counts, in selling raffle tickets to make money for the foundation. And that's what matters. We let them win the softball game, and we take over all the other parts," Wiersma said.

The softball game is also an opportunity for officers and firefighters to enjoy some off the job camaraderie.

"A lot of times when we're together, it's usually in a pretty stressful situation and it's nice to have that other fun side as well," Wiersma said.