While some San Fernando residents may have been watching NFL games to see who would qualify for the upcoming Super Bowl, there was baseball being played at San Fernando High.
One team was comprised of the 2018 Tigers squad that will open its regular season Feb. 16 against San Pedro.
The other team? Members of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The LAPD team, led by Officer Michael Jason Scott, is primarily comprised of current officers who gather in their spare time and play exhibitions against schools, colleges, other law enforcement or fire department teams — “anyone who’ll play a game with us,” Scott said.
The San Fernando game was special, in part because Scott and his teammates Rickey Alvarez and Danny Rios are Tiger alumni. Alvarez — who was good enough to be drafted by the Chicago White Sox — graduated in 2008, and Rios 1995. Scott, who did not play baseball at San Fernando High, graduated in 1986.
Another alumnus, Javier Salazar, was on duty and unable to play in the game.
Scott and SFHS Coach Armando Gomez were brought together by a mutual friend: Gary Gant, an official at Oakley, a sunglasses and apparel business, that provides sponsorship with both the school and the police department for a youth program Scott helped develop — “Just Say No to Drugs, Gangs, Crime and Bullying.”
“I hadn’t met (Scott) before but I saw the stuff he was doing,” Gomez said. And after Scott called to see if a game could be arranged, Gomez didn’t hesitate.
“He’s a super guy,” Gomez said. “We are planning on doing a big (“Just Say No”) pledge program for the kids here on campus. He is influential, and encourages kids.”
As for the game, San Fernando spotted the LAPD a 2-0 lead before going on to win 11-3. “They had a couple of older pitchers we were able to hit,” Gomez said. He noted, however, that his team got to watch Scott’s team, as Gomez put it put it “play the game the right way.”
“They were always hustling,” he said. “They were always running hard on the bases, even on routine fly balls. Our kids were a little hesitant at first, but quickly saw they had come to play.”
The game — at least the outcome — was secondary for Scott and his fellow officers, who got to speak to the crowd and San Fernando team before the game, and mingle afterward at a postgame barbecue.
“Our first approach is we play the game because a lot of us came from there — not just San Fernando High but also the Valley,” Scott said. “But we also get to talk to them about staying in school and doing the right thing in life: and that is the best part of it for us.
“Playing the game is icing. And I’m sure them playing the police motivates them — they want to beat us — but it may also help them stay on the right path.”
This was the first time San Fernando High and LAPD played each other. Gomez hopes it won’t be the last time. “Our kids had fun,” he said.
There may have been an added bonus.
“And now some of our guys want to be cops,” he said.