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The City Journals

Police, Firefighters Invite Guests to Softball Rivalry

Aug 04, 2016 03:12PM ● By Tori La Rue

Austin Ault, 6, gears up to throw the ceremonial first pitch in honor of his recently passed-away best friend and little brother, Tanner, at Unified Fire Authority and the Unified Police Department’s Guns vs. Hoses softball tournament. --Unified Fire Authority

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Taylorsville, Utah - The annual Guns vs. Hoses softball tournament took a memorable turn this year when the Unified Fire Authority and the Unified Police Department invited honorary teammates onto the field.  

“We welcome Austin Ault who will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in honor of his recently passed best friend and little brother, Tanner,” the game announcer’s voice rang through the Gary C. Swensen Valley Regional Baseball Diamond.

6-year-old “Austy,” as his little brother called him, geared up for the throw, and “nailed it,” according to firefighter Rob Marriot, sending it over the home plate.

“That was the best part of the game, having the Aults be a part of it,” Marriot said. “Austin did an absolutely perfect job. It was beautiful and amazing. I’m glad that I had my sunglasses on so you couldn’t see my eyes.”

UFA met the Ault family when Tanner, 3, ran into the road near 11688 S. 700 West in Draper and was hit by an SUV. He was flown to the hospital and pronounced dead. UFA and the Aults formed a friendship through the tragic circumstance, so firefighters invited the Aults to the yearly sports showdown between UFA and UPD as the first honorary players since the tradition began nine years ago, Marriot said.

A joint color guard presented the colors, a community member sang the national anthem, the Emerald Society played Amazing Grace on their bagpipes and the crowd held a moment of silence for Officer Doug Barney, of Unified Police who was shot and killed in Holladay on-duty in January, before Austin stepped onto the pitcher’s mound.

The event was originally created to bring firefighters and police officers together in a friendly competition outside of work hours. The coveted victory prize is a traveling trophy that sits in the winning department’s office and serves as bragging rights until the annual event occurs again. Police and fire were tied, each winning the softball game for four years, so the June 24 game was a tie breaker.

About 60 community members watched as their public safety personnel dueled it out. UFA took the game, snagging the trophy, but there was more to the game this year.

“Overall, the best part of the event was not the victory and taking trophy but having Austin throw out ceremonial first pitch and destroy it right down the middle,” Marriot said. “This was the first time we did anything like that, and it was just an amazing and beautiful thing, so we can anticipate that type of movement moving forward with this event in years to come.”