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|Officer Matt Crosby attended Friday's charity game and threw out the first pitch at CBC High School. He was left paralyzed from the waist down after answering a call to a domestic dispute in April (Photo by Mark Buckner). |
Blues assistant coach Brad Shaw stepped up to the plate on a chilly night in St. Louis and swung for the fences.
In that moment, as the ball flew out of the park and Shaw trotted around the bases, it became clear that the Blues had also hit a home run with Friday’s charity softball game.
Current players, alumni and members of the media participated in the event at CBC High School, which was organized to raise money for Rock Hill police officer Matt Crosby, who was injured while on duty last month.
Crosby, 30, went to investigate a domestic dispute between George Jones, 36, and his live-in girlfriend at Stanford Place Apartments near Manchester Road on Apr. 8. The altercation resulted in gunfire, and Jones hit Crosby in the shoulder. The bullet lodged against his spine and left him paralyzed from the waist down. According to various reports, doctors are unsure how long Crosby will spend at a rehabilition hospital or whether he will walk again.
But that doesn't keep him from maintaining a positive attitude. As a husband and father, he's determined to improve and is happy to be alive.
“The police officers, and especially Matt Crosby, they put their lives on the line everyday, whether it’s a traffic stop or domestic dispute,” said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman
, who participated in Friday’s game. “We really appreciate what they do. They get hurt all the time, so we just came out here tonight to lend some support and raise a little bit of money for (Matt’s) family.”
Crosby is a graduate of CBC High School and a three-year veteran of the Rock Hill Police Department.
Game participants included current Blues players along with former Blues Al MacInnis, Scott Mellanby, Keith Tkachuk, Kelly Chase and Jamal Mayers, to name a few. Former Cardinals John Mabry and Mike Matheny also participated along with several members of the media and Crosby's family.
“It’s always nice to be involved and when (Chase) called, I was more than happy to come out and help. It’s a good deal,” Mabry said prior to the game. “This is what it’s all about. The city of St. Louis gives all its athletes a lot of respect, so it’s always good to give back. I do as much as I can because of that.”
Defenseman Erik Johnson pledged to donate $300 for every hit he got Friday. Jackman and a group of players countered with a pledge to donate $500 each time they got him out.
Johnson went 3-for-3 with three singles and a run scored.
“The money is going to a terrific guy who deserves better than what he got,” Johnson said. “But he’s making the best of his situation and we’re doing all we can to help.”
Jackman and his group of teammates contributed their $500 anyway. Fans can help by visiting any Heartland Bank and making a donation to the Matt Crosby Charitable Foundation. In addition, fans can donate online at responderrescue.org
Friday’s game was organized by former Blues players Bruce Affleck and Kelly Chase, along with Mike Caruso, the Blues’ Vice President of Public Relations. They worked closely with Responder Rescue, a nonprofit organization created by St. Louis firefighters in 2009 that provides help to those injured while serving their community.
“We (alumni) stayed here for a reason, and one of the reasons we’ve stayed here is because the community has embraced us,” Chase said. “If we can do anything to help, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go out of our way to help those who have supported us here. Right now, we want to rally around this.”
Team White won the game 5-3, thanks in part to Shaw’s home run. Andy McDonald
doubled and tripled for Team White, while Berglund chipped in with a double and a single for Team Blue. Jackman and Mabry stole the show for their teams defensively.
But the stats, as unscientific as they were, don’t tell the entire story. What matters more is that the players and fans had a great time for an even greater cause. Through ticket sales and silent and live auctions, the Blues raised thousands for Crosby.
“It’s great that our guys can come out and generate this kind of turnout in the stands,” Shaw said. “It’s unfortunate what happened to Matt and his family, but hockey players have big hearts and you saw that here tonight.”