Chicago Blackhawks and National Hockey League fans may have to wait a while to see their heroes on the ice, as the league is in the midst of its fourth lockout in 20 years.
But Blackhawks fans got a treat when several alumni team members and current forward Kyle Beach competed in a 16-inch softball game against members of the Chicago Police and Fire departments in an effort to raise money for several worthy causes on a picturesque day at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field on the campus of St. Xavier University on Sept. 16.
Jack O’Callahan, a member of the 1980 Olympic gold medal hockey team, has been one of the brains behind the successful charity game that’s now in its fifth season.
“Our Blackhawks alumni guys are thrilled to be here again,” said O’Callahan. “When we put this thing together five years ago, everywhere we went to ask for support, people have always said yes. We are thankful to everyone and can’t say enough about the support we get. We are here to help and always will be.”
While the Blackhawks rallied for a 10-4 win on the field, there were no losers in the event that benefitted a host of worthy charities, including Chicago Firefighters’ Ende, Menzer, Walsh and Quinn Retirees, Widows and Children’s Assistance Fund and the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
“It’s a great cause. To come out here and see all the fans cheering on both teams and to have that camaraderie with some of the older guys who played for the Blackhawks means a lot to me,” said Beach. “It means a lot to us to come out and support the fire and police departments on a day like this.”
Beach and his Blackhawks teammates were locked out in the latest labor dispute in the National Hockey League the morning of the event, but he and several other young players will still get to play for Rockford in the American Hockey League while the lockout continues.
“Obviously, it’s not the Blackhawks, who we all wish we were playing for, but it’s a way to keep playing,” said Beach. “When the season does come back, we will be prepared and ready to join the Blackhawks again.”
Other Blackhawks alumni in attendance included Stan Mikita, who signed autographs at the event, Cliff Koroll, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Grant Mulvey and longtime radio and TV playby- play announcer Pat Foley.
The Police/Fire team took a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
However, it was all Blackhawks from there. The team scored two runs in the second inning and then took the lead for good with three in the third, highlighted by Foley’s inside-the-park home run.
The Blackhawks alumni team, which let children run the bases for them, scored five more times in the bottom of the fourth for the final tally.