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Kadner: ‘Battle in the Burbs’ for charity

The “Battle Burbs” charity 16-inch softball game will be held 
Saturday Standard Bank Stadium Crestwood.  |  File photo

The “Battle in the Burbs” charity 16-inch softball game will be held Saturday at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood. | File photo

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Updated: November 11, 2013 12:17PM



It may be one of the riskiest ventures ever undertaken by suburban mayors.

Billed as the “Battle in the Burbs,” Southland mayors and village managers will take on fire and police chiefs in a game of 16-inch softball Saturday at Standard Bank Stadium, 14011 Kenton Ave., Crestwood.

This is the brainchild of Crestwood Mayor Lou “Deliver the News” Presta, and the goal is to raise money for the Special Olympics by charging adults $5 for tickets (children can attend free of charge).

The real question is how many mayors will survive such a game without major injury, with Presta noting, “We’re going to have the fire chiefs there, and hopefully they know how to administer CPR.”

Sandra “Doc” Bury, of Oak Lawn, is among the mayors who signed on to play in the game.

“I will do whatever they ask me to do, although I have no athletic ability,” Bury said. “None.”

She solicited the services of village Clerk Jane Quinlan, whom Bury referred to as “our rock star” because “she throws out the first ball at games in the spring and is the only one who can get it all the way to the plate.”

That almost sounds like White Sox broadcaster Ken Harrelson explaining to fans why Gordon Beckham is such a valuable member of the team.

“Someone told me they might ask me to coach first base,” Bury said. “I just hope they don’t ask me to do anything meaningful.”

Bury explained she was optimistic about the game because “I understand it is played with a ball about the size of a basketball.”

Those who have never played 16-inch softball often make the mistake of thinking it is a child’s game due to the size of the ball, which is much smaller than a basketball, which measures about 29.5 inches in circumference.

In my younger days, it was a source of humor to stick some hotshot from the East Coast who had played 12-inch softball at third base and watch him scream in pain the first time a new Clincher (the best-known brand of 16-inch softball) hit him in the hands.

No fielding gloves are used in real 16-inch softball, a fact Bury did not know.

Then again, maybe the mayors, being weenies, will use gloves or, worse yet, surrogates.

“I’m not planning to play myself,” Presta said. “I could hurt something.”

He said he recruited his village manager to play in his place, “but he’s come up with a bum knee, so I may have to find someone else.”

Umpires for the game, Presta told me, will be Cook County judges from the Bridgeview courthouse.

Others mayors who have stepped up to the plate for the game are “Downtown” Dan McLaughlin from Orland Park, Gerald “Just Jerry” Bennett from Palos Hills, Kevin Casey, of Hometown, Bob “Money in the Bank” Straz, of Palos Heights, Eugene “Casino” Williams, of Lynwood, Kyle “The Political Machine” Hastings, of Orland Hills, Patrick “The Incinerator” Kitching, of Alsip, Eric Kellogg, of Harvey, Steven “The Stadium” Landek, of Bridgeview, Riley “No Money” Rogers, of Dolton, Dwight Welch, of Country Club Hills, Sharon Rybak, of Midlothian, Christopher Getty, of Lyons and Jeffrey Tobolski, of McCook.

Although I understand McLaughlin has asked that he be referred to in the future only as “Ninety7Fifty,” like that football receiver who changed his name to a number, I refuse to acknowledge the request.

Playing for the police and fire chiefs team will be Hometown Police Chief Chuck Forsyth, Oak Lawn Police Chief Michael Murray, Sauk Village Police Chief Tom Holevis, Country Club Hills Deputy Police Chief Brian Sarnowski, Alsip Police Chief Chris Radzi, Orland Hills Police Chief Tom Scully, Dolton Police Chief John Franklin and Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy.

A source told me McCarthy, who took a bullet while a Secret Service agent protecting President Ronald Reagan, will be playing first base.

I found that interesting only because no one could tell me what other positions any of the village officials would be playing.

Among the fire chiefs participating will be Jon Bruce, of Crestwood, Roger Agpawa, of Country Club Hills, and Tom Styczynski, of Alsip, and Deputy Fire Chiefs Patrick Carter and Martin Quinn, of Merrionette Park.

“Bennett is really excited about the game,” Presta said, referring to the mayor of Palos Hills. “He wanted to organize a practice session before the game. I told him no because most of us could get injured swinging a bat. We have to save it for the game.”

Presta said members of the Windy City ThunderBolts, the minor league baseball team that plays at Standard Bank Stadium, will be on hand to provide guidance to the participants.

Having known some of these mayors for years, I couldn’t help wondering who would be giving them their fielding assignments and making out the lineup card.

“Well, that hasn’t been decided yet,” Presta said.

Each October, suburban police departments traditionally launch their fundraising events for the Special Olympics. They will continue to do that, but this time the mayors will assist through the softball game, the proceeds of which will be divided among all the participating municipalities.

In addition to the $5 admission price, food tickets will be on sale by suburban restaurants, providing samples of their menu with a portion of the money going to the Special Olympics.

“This is the first year we have tried this so I don’t know how many people will come, but I thought it could be a fun way to get people together for a good cause,” Presta said.

“I’m all-in,” Bury said. “I think it’s a terrific idea, and I hope people will turn out for the Special Olympics.”

The doors will open at 4 p.m., and the game will start at 6 p.m.

It should be remembered that most police and fire chiefs serve at the pleasure of their mayors.

I’m not inferring they would throw the game, but if the mayors score a single run someone ought to contact the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago.



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